Human rights breaches at the Spanish/Moroccan border, in Russia, and in Sri Lanka

  • Morocco must end the use of unaccompanied minors to pressure Spain 
  • Russia must release Andrei Pivovarov and halt reprisals against political opponents 
  • Sri Lanka must repeal controversial Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) 

On Thursday, Parliament adopted three resolutions on the human rights situation at the Spanish/Moroccan border, in Russia, and in Sri Lanka.

The breach of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the use of minors by the Moroccan authorities in the migratory crisis in Ceuta

Parliament rejects Morocco’s use of border control and migration, and unaccompanied minors in particular, as political pressure against Spain. MEPs particularly deplore the participation of children, unaccompanied minors and families in the recent mass crossings of the border from Morocco to the Spanish city of Ceuta, putting their lives and safety in clear danger.

From 17 May 2021, an unprecedented surge in crossings to Spanish territory have occurred. Around 9 000 people have entered, swimming or walking into the autonomous city of Ceuta after Moroccan police temporarily eased border controls, opened the gates of their border fence and took no action to stop illegal entry.

The resolution states this crisis was triggered by Morocco because of diplomatic tensions between the North African country and Spain, and is not actually related to migration, but rather to Spain having welcomed and admitted to hospital Brahim Ghali, the leader of the Polisario Front (Sahrawi national liberation movement).

The text calls on Spain and Morocco to work closely to allow for the repatriation of the Moroccan children to their families, which must be guided by the best interests of the child and carried out in compliance with national and international law, in particular the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The text was adopted by 397 votes in favour, 85 against and 196 abstentions. For further details, the full version will be available here. (10.06.2021)

The listing of German NGOs as ‘undesirable organisations’ by Russia and the detention of Andrei Pivovarov

MEPs call on the Russian authorities to release the former leader of the Open Russia movement, Andrei Pivovarov, immediately and unconditionally. They also call on authorities to drop all charges against him and all others being prosecuted under the law on ‘undesirable organisations’, which is used by Russian authorities to target NGOs and civil society organisations critical of the Kremlin.

Mr Pivovarov was taken off a taxiing Polish LOT plane in Saint Petersburg on 31 May, arbitrarily detained, and two days later placed in pre-trial detention for two months on charges of ‘carrying out activities of an undesirable organisation’.

The resolution calls on the Russian authorities to end all reprisals against political opponents and refrain from adopting legislation being prepared that would ban the staff or supporters of organisations arbitrarily listed as ‘undesirable’ from running in upcoming legislative elections.

The text further demands a reversal of the decision of the Russian Prosecutor General to list three German NGOs (Forum Russischsprachiger Europäer e.V., Zentrum für die Liberale Moderne GmbH and Deutsch-Russischer Austausch e.V.), as well as other similar foreign organisations as ‘undesirable, numbering 34 in total.

It was adopted by 564 votes in favour, 61 against and 37 abstentions. It will be available in full here (10.06.2021).

The situation in Sri Lanka, in particular the arrests under the Prevention of Terrorism Act

Parliament expresses its deep concern about Sri Lanka’s alarming slide towards a recurrence of grave human rights violations, as described by the most recent UN report on the country. Members reiterate their strong opposition to the continued application of the controversial Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA), which grants the country’s police broad powers to search, arrest and detain civilian suspects. It has led to consistent and well-founded allegations of torture, sexual abuse and forced confessions.

They call on the Sri Lankan authorities to fulfil their pledge to review and repeal the act and replace it with anti-terrorism legislation which follows international best practices.

Sri Lanka regained access to generous EU tariff preferences under the GSP+ on 19 May 2017, on the condition that it replace the PTA and effectively implements 27 international conventions, including on human rights.

MEPs are therefore calling on the European Commission and the European External Action Service to use the GSP+ as leverage to push for progress on Sri Lanka’s human rights obligations. They also want them to carefully assess whether there is sufficient reason, as a last resort, to initiate a procedure for the temporary withdrawal of Sri Lanka’s GSP+ status.

For more details, the resolution will be available in full here (10.06.2021). It was adopted by 628 votes in favour, 15 against with 40 abstentions.