Human rights: Zimbabwe, Ukrainian political prisoners in Russia, and Philippines
Plenary Session Press release – Humanitarian aid / Development and cooperation / External relations − 16-03-2017 – 12:15
Parliament deplores the arrest of Pastor Evan Mawarire and political violence against human rights defenders in Zimbabwe, calls for the release of Ukrainians illegally detained in Russia and urges the Philippines to release human rights advocate Senator Leila M. De Lima, detained on drug-trafficking charges, in three resolutions voted on Thursday.
Zimbabwe, the case of Pastor Evan Mawarire
MEPs deplore the arrest of Evan Mawarire, pastor and human rights defender who was arrested on 1 February 2017 at Harare airport, on his return to Zimbabwe after a forced exile. Pastor Mawarire, whose independent social media movement #ThisFlag, catalysed citizens’ frustration with the Mugabe regime during last year’s protests against the government’s inaction against corruption, impunity and poverty, now faces a 20-year sentence for charges that include subverting the government and inciting public violence. These “politically motivated charges against him must be completely withdrawn”, urge MEPs.
Parliament is deeply concerned by human rights organisations’ reports of political violence, as well as restrictions on, and intimidation of, human rights defenders in Zimbabwe and call on its government to respect the human rights of all Zimbabwean citizens, including the freedoms of speech and assembly.
Ukrainian political prisoners in Russia and situation in Crimea
The European Parliament reiterates its condemnation of the illegal annexation three years ago of the Crimean peninsula and the City of Sevastopol by Russia. It deplores violations of freedom of speech, abuse of the media, forced imposition of Russian citizenship and the discriminatory policies imposed by the so-called authorities against, in particular, Crimea’s ethnic Tatar minority.
Russia should stop giving “all inhabitants of Crimea Russian passports” and “release without further delay all illegally and arbitrarily detained Ukrainian citizens, both in Russia and in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine, and to provide for their safe return”, urge MEPs. It should also “immediately cease the practices of persecution”, as many cases have been reported of “disappearances”, torture and systematic intimidation of local citizens opposed to the annexation of Crimea.
MEPs reiterate their call for the immediate reversal of the so-called Supreme Court of Crimea’s decision of 26 April 2016 to ban the Mejlis, the legitimate and recognised representative body of ethnic Crimean Tatars, an indigenous people of the peninsula whose “rights have been gravely violated”.
Philippines, the case of Senator Leila M. De Lima
MEPs call for the immediate release of Senator Leila M. De Lima, a human rights advocate, former Chair of the Philippine’s Human Rights Commission and the highest-profile critic of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s anti-drug campaign, who was arrested and detained on 24 February and could face a sentence from 12 years up to life imprisonment and be expelled from the Senate.
Parliament strongly condemns the many extrajudicial killings by the armed forces and vigilante groups related to the anti-drug campaign, over 7,000 drug-related killings by the police and vigilantes having been reported since President Duterte took office on 30 June 2016. While strongly condemning drug trafficking and drug abuse in the Philippines, MEPs call on the government to prioritise the fight against trafficking networks and drug barons over tracking down small-scale consumers.
The EU should “closely monitor the case against Senator De Lima” and “support the establishment at the UN Human Rights Council of an independent international investigation into unlawful killings and other violations by the Philippines in the context of President Duterte’s ‘war on drugs’”, says the text.