European Interest

MEPs call for human rights protections

Flickr/FID - UK Department for International Development/CC BY 2.0
Iraqi Yazidi refugee children at Newroz camp in Al-Hassakah province, north eastern Syria after fleeing Islamic State militants.

The European Parliament on December 13 adopted a resolution on the state of human rights worldwide in 2016, and called on the European Union to do more to counter persecution based on religion.

The MEPs said the EU should step up its efforts to safeguard freedom of thought and belief and promote inter-religious dialogue with third countries. They agreed that Islamic State fighters should be prosecuted for the systematic killing of Christians, Yazidis and other religious minorities, which the parliament has described as genocide. They also called on the United Nations Security Council to give the International Criminal Court (ICC), the powers to prosecute them.

What is more, the European Parliament urged the EU to address human rights violations that migrants, refugees and asylum seekers face in EU and non-EU countries, as the victims of conflict, poverty, smuggling networks and trafficking in human beings.

To this end, the MEPs advocated resettlement and family reunification schemes and the use of humanitarian corridors. They also urged the EU and its member states to discourage all forms of exploitation that lead to trafficking.

On free speech online, the MEPs also noted that private companies’ decisions on what content to take off the web are based on their terms of service rather than democratically approved laws. They called on the EU Commission to propose a directive to make takedown procedures more transparent.

The resolution, which was passed by 443 votes to 95, with 84 abstentions, also called for the systematic inclusion of human rights clauses in the EU’s agreements with third countries, including those on trade and investment.

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