Country-Focused Issues

AuthorEuropean Union Publications Office
Pages66 - 82

Page 67

6.1. Europe and its Neighbourhood

During this period, the EU has continued to strive for the improvement of the human rights situation in the Mediterranean region; the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership or Barcelona process enhanced by the European Neighbourhood Policy, provided the framework for these eff orts.

The EU continued in the spirit of the orientations set by the ten recommendations contained in the Commission Communication on Reinvigorating EU Actions on Human Rights and Democratisation with Mediterranean Partners, endorsed by the Council68; they were followed by the implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy, in particular through commitments agreed in the framework of bilateral Action Plans. During the negotiation of the Action plans, eff orts concentrated in promoting the elements of the European Neighbourhood Policy relating to human rights, democratisation, good governance and the strengthening of the rule of law.

The 10th Anniversary Euro-Mediterranean Summit, held in Barcelona on 27-28 November 2005, adopted an a jointly agreed Five Year Work Programme and a Euro-Mediterranean Code of Conduct on Countering Terrorism69, which undertook to ensure respect for human rights in the fi ght against terrorism, in accordance with international law. Commitments in the Work Programme include: extending political pluralism and participation by citizens through the active promotion of a fair political environment, including fair and free elections; enabling citizens to participate in decision making at the local level; increasing the participation of women in decision making, including on political, social, cultural and economic positions; ensure freedom of expression and association by facilitating the work of independent information providers; foster the role of civil society; enable the further implementation of UN and Regional Charters and Conventions on civil, political, social and economic rights; in order to implement the above, agreement on the following actions was achieved:

– the EU will start preparations to set up a substantial Facility to assist successful reform eff orts

– representatives in the permanent missions, at the UN Headquarters, shall conduct informal exchanges of views, before the meetings of the UN Commission of Human Rights, which was replaced by the Human Rights Council in June 2006 and of the General Assembly, where appropriate

– measures will be taken to achieve gender equality, preventing discrimination and ensuring the protection of women; education opportunities for girls and women, as a basic right,

– will be expanded and improved

This period also saw an increased involvement of civil society; Euromed Civil Forum held in Luxembourg, on 1-3 April 2005, organised by the Euro-Mediterranean Non-Governmental Platform, constituted an important landmark since 350 participants representing civil society of 42 countries underlined the need for public policies to take into account human rights. Also, the Euro-Mediterranean Foundation Anna Lindh for the Dialogue between Cultures is making an important contribution, participating inter alia, in the preparation of the fi rst Euro-Mediterranean Ministerial on the strengthening of the role of women in society (to be held in Istanbul on 14-15 November 2006) in promoting Youth projects and mobility of young people through academic exchanges and generally promoting better understanding of cultural diversity. In addition to that, the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN), established in 1997, continued its activities with an overall objective of contributing to the protection and promotion of the Human Rights principles embodied in the Barcelona Declaration of November 1995 and in the bilateral association agreements and action plans between the EU and its Mediterranean partners.

The Euromed Regional Indicative Programme for 2004-2006 was continued, focussing in particular on the promotion of democracy, the rule of law, good governance and judicial independence.

Equally, the Euromed Regional Cooperation Programme in the area of Justice, the Fight against illicit drugs, Organised crime and Terrorism, as well as Co-operation on the questions linked to the Social integration of Immigrants, Migration and Movement of Persons, (adopted at the Valencia Euromed Ministerial Conference in April 200270), was pursued; in particular, the project Euro-med Justice, which started in January 2005, for a 30 month duration, aims at the creation of an inter-professional community of magistrates, lawyers and clerks in the framework of a modern justice system thus strengthening the rule of law and the effective implementation of human rights.

A Euro-Mediterranean Seminar on “Racism, Xenophobia and the Media: towards respect and Understanding of all religions and Cultures”, that was held on 22-23 May 2006, in Vienna, resulted in a set of constructive proposals underlining the need for intercultural and inter-religious dialogue as well as dialogue between media, civil society, faith groups and policy makers with the aim of eradicating racism.

6.1.1. EU Candidates and Potential Candidates

The prospect of EU membership continues to act as a powerful incentive for prospective new member states to undertake politi-Page 68cal and economic reforms. The impact has been particularly dramatic in the fields of democracy, governance and human rights: the massive strides taken by them in introducing democratic systems, safeguarding rights of persons belonging to minorities, developing a free media and more are testimony to the powerful pull of the EU. The prospect of EU integration is now acting as a spur to reform in the acceding countries (Bulgaria and Romania) and candidate countries negotiating accession (Turkey and Croatia), the Western Balkans and in the wider European neighbourhood.

Bulgaria has made significant progress in promoting respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and engages in continuous improvement of its legislation and practices. Bulgaria is a State Party to all the main human rights conventionsand has introduced laws on child protection, discrimination, rights of persons belonging to minorities and people traffcking. While Bulgaria is expected to be able to join the EU by January 2007, some areas still present concerns relating to the need to further strengthen the fight against corruption and to further improve and implement judicial reforms. It is also recognised that there is a need to improve social inclusion of the Roma and combat all forms of intolerance. Bulgaria has also been identified as transit (and, to a lesser extent, origin) country for the traffcking of human beings. The EU continues to monitor closely progress of these and other political reforms. Following the issuance of a Comprehensive Monitoring Report from the Commission due this autumn, the Union will decide on whether Bulgaria joins the EU on 1 January 2007 as foreseen.

Romania has made major advances in promoting respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and in improving its legislation and practices. The EU integration process has been fundamental to this and continues to be a catalyst for change. Romania has ratifi ed all the main human rights conventions and has introduced laws on child protection, discrimination, rights of persons belonging to minorities and people traffcking.

While Romania is expected to join the EU by January 2007, some areas that still present concerns relate to the fi ght against corruption, the treatment of persons in custody and institutions, the disabled and minorities (particularly Roma). Additionally, further eff orts are required in order to generally combat all forms of intolerance. Romania has also been identifi ed as a transit (and, to a lesser extent, origin- and destination) country for people traffcking. The EU continues to monitor closely progress of justice and law enforcement and other political reforms. Following the issuance of a Comprehensive Monitoring Report from the Commission due this autumn, the Union will decide on whether Romania joins the EU as scheduled on 1 January 2007.

Political transition in Turkey is ongoing and the country continues to suffciently fulfil the Copenhagen political criteria; however, the pace of change has slowed in 2005 and implementation remains uneven. After the opening of accession negotiations on 3 October 2005, the need for further tangible progress on the ground is crucial as clearly set out in the Negotiating Framework and the Accession Partnership. Turkey should vigorously pursue and intensify its reform process and at the same time ensure its full, effective and comprehensive implementation by all public authorities and throughout the country guaranteeing its irreversibility and sustainability. Concerning the exercise of fundamental freedoms and human rights, whilst some progress has been made and certain positive steps have been taken, significant further efforts are needed, in areas such as: freedom of expression (there are still cases against individual persons for non-violent expression of opinion); freedom of religion (the diffculties faced by, in particular, the non-Muslim religious minorities are still to be addressed); rights of persons belonging to minorities, cultural rights and the protection of minorities (there is a need for appropriate measures to ensure cultural diversity and promote protection of minorities in accordance with the European Convention on Human Rights); women's rights (the high incidence of domestic violence, in particular by “honour killings”, continues to be a source of concern); the fi ght against torture and ill-treatment (the adopted reforms have contributed to establish an appropriate legislative framework, but further efforts to ensure full implementation and to reinforce the fi ght against impunity are needed). The EU will continue to monitor closely the progress of the political reforms in Turkey as part of Turkey's progress in preparing for accession, which will guide the advancement of the negotiations and in full accordance with the negotiating framework for Turkey and the Accession Partnership.

At the General Affairs and External Relations Council of 3 October 2005 it was confi rmed that Croatia was fully cooperating with the ICTY and so made it possible to open accession negotiations. Croatia became a candidate country while remaining part of the SAP. Croatia now has an Accession Partnership71 within which human rights and the protection of minorities is a political requirement. Accession negotiations are based on Croatia's own merits and their pace will depend on Croatia's progress in preparing for accession including the fulfilment of obligations under the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA)72, of which respect for human rights is an essential element, as well as the implementation of the Accession Partnership.

At the EU-Croatia Stabilisation and Association Council on 10 April 2006 the progress of Croatia in the SAP criteria was discussed. The EU pointed out that the prosecution of war crimes needs to be improved. Croatia recognises there is a problem which is due to a lack of capacity causing backlogs.

The countries of the Western Balkans (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia including Kosovo and Montenegro) are part of the Stabilisation and Association Process (SAP). As stated inPage 69the Thessaloniki Agenda73, the progress of each country towards the EU depends on its own merits in meeting the Copenhagen criteria74 and the conditions set for the SAP. Under the SAP, the countries of the region receive Community Assistance for Reconstruction, development and Stabilisation (CARDS)75 assistance. A precondition for receiving CARDS assistance is that the recipients respect democratic principles, the rule of law, human and rights of persons belonging to minorities, fundamental freedoms and the principles of international law. Compliance with the SAP conditionality is monitored through an annual review mechanism based on the Commission's reports, and the countries of the Western Balkans commit themselves to implementing its recommendations. The next annual review will take place by the end of 2006.

The most far-reaching of the new SAP instruments are the European Partnerships76, inspired by the Accession Partnerships77. These partnerships, drawn up for each Western Balkan country, identify, on a regular basis, priorities and obligations to be ful- fi lled. EU fi nancial assistance will be directed to the priorities set out in the partnerships. Human rights and the protection of minorities is a political requirement of these Partnerships. Each country will draw up a national action plan for implementation of the partnerships, which will provide a clear agenda against which to measure progress.

Full compliance with International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) commitments is at the heart of SAP conditionality and is one of the ways, along with refugee returns and the prosecution of war crimes, that the SAP addresses past human rights violations.

On 10 March 2006 the Council Decision 2006/205/CFSP updated the annex to Common Position 2004/694/CFSP containing the list of indictees of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). The Common Position aimed at supporting the eff ective implementation of the mandate of ICTY by imposing an assets freeze on indicted fugitives.

At the same time the Council adopted Council Common Position 2006/204/CFSP, which extended until 16 March 2007 Common Position 2004/293/CFSP measures in support of the effective implementation of the mandate of ICTY. Th is Common Position places a travel ban on persons assisting ICTY indictees to evade justice.

Regarding Kosovo, the EU has actively promoted the implementation of standards, including on the protection of minorities, and the European Council of June 2006 emphasised the crucial importance of moving forward on the implementation of standards.

On 10 May, the EU put negotiations with Serbia and Montenegro on the SAA on hold due to a lack of progress on the commitment to fully cooperate with ICTY. ICTY cooperation is an essential condition of the SAP.

On 21 May 2006, a referendum on independence was held in Montenegro. The ODIHR concluded that the referendum was conducted overall in line with OSCE and Council of Europe commitments and other international standards for democratic electoral processes. On 3 June 2006, the Parliament of Montenegro passed a Declaration on the Independence of the Republic of Montenegro, in conformity with Art. 60 of the Constitutional Charter of the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro. On 5 June 2006, the Parliament of Serbia passed a Decision that defi nes the Republic of Serbia as the continuing State of the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro. To this goal, the EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy appointed Ambassador Miroslav Lajèák as his personal representative to facilitate negotiations among political forces in Montenegro on the arrangements for the referendum.”

6.1.2. The European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP)

The technical consultations on the ENP Action Plans started with Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia during the last weeks of 2005. The formal adoption of the three ENP Action Plans is foreseen for the autumn 2006.

The Action Plans with Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia should serve as a comprehensive map for political, economic and administrative reforms. In the context of the technical consultations on the ENP Action Plans with the three South Caucasus countries, the EU side has strongly underlined the importance of issues related to strengthening of democracy in these countries, including through fair and transparent electoral processes, in line with international requirements and issues related to strengthen the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law, in compliance with international commitments of the three countries (PCA, CoE, OSCE, UN).

The Council of Ministers of the EU adopted Conclusions on Belarus on 7 November 2005, as well as on 30 January 2006 and 10 April 2006; in all of these, it recalled its concern at the human rights situation and the state of democracy in Belarus. The EU issued several declarations on developments in Belarus, notably in the context of the 19 March 2006 Presidential elections, which the EU described as fundamentally fl awed. UkrainePage 70and Moldova aligned themselves i.a. with the 22 March declaration in which the EU announced its assessment of the elections and pledged that it would further strengthen its support for civil society and democratisation in Belarus. The High Representative Solana issued several statements on developments in Belarus, especially regretting the conduct of the Presidential elections and expressing deep respect for democratic opposition and civil society (20 March).

On 23-24 March 2006, the European Council announced it would take restrictive measures against those responsible for the violations of international electoral standards, including President Lukashenko. On 10 April and 18 May 2006, the Council adopted Common Position (2006/276/CFSP and 2006/362/CFSP respectively) concerning restrictive measures against certain offcials of Belarus, responsible for the rigging of elections and the crackdown of democratic opposition and civil society in the framework of the electoral process. These measures were taken in addition to those adopted in 2004 against the individuals named by the Pourgourides report as key actors in the disappearances of four well-know persons in Belarus in 1999–2000 and the subsequent obstruction of justice, and against those Belarusian offcials responsible for the fraudulent elections and referendum in Belarus on 17 October 2004 and for severe human rights violations in the repression of peaceful demonstrators in the aftermath of the vote.

EU Policy on Belarus was last reviewed at the November 2005 GAERC. These conclusions aimed at combining toughening and softening approaches in such a targeted way, which would result in more direct pressure on President Lukashenko and his closest entourage – leaving some channels of communication open for crisis situations – and increased interface with wider layers of Belarusian population, including mid-level offcials.

With regard to the Palestinian Authority (PA), the central theme in the remainder of 2005 was the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and parts of the northern West Bank, which was successfully concluded in September 2005. From early on, the EU stressed the need to ensure the social and economic viability of Gaza following disengagement, particularly with respect to the need for access to the outside. To that eff ect and specifi cally in order to lead, oversee and coordinate the international community's eff orts in support of the disengagement initiative, the Quartet appointed James Wolfensohn to serve as its Special Envoy for the Gaza Disengagement following the end of his term as World Bank President. The EU welcomes the “Agreement on Movement and Access” between Israel and the Palestinian Authority on 15 November. On the basis of this agreement, an international crossing point between Egypt and Gaza at Rafah was opened on 25 November with the EU – in the framework of an ESDP mission – performing the role of the third party as provided for in the Agreement. EU COPPS (EU Coordinating Offce for Palestinian Police Support) played an important role throughout the reporting period in the reform and strengthening of Palestinian security and police structures and the overall promotion of the rule of law. On 7 November the Council decided to launch an ESDP Police Mission in the Palestinian Territories to build on the work of EU COPPS for a three-year period starting at the beginning of 2006.

The elections to the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) in January 2006 which were secure, free and fair according to EU and other international observers led to a Hamas landslide victory. The subsequent formation of a Hamas-led government resulted in an interruption of contacts (including of a fi nancial nature) between this government and the international community at large in the absence of this government's commitment to meet and implement the three criteria of non-violence, recognition of Israel's right to exist and the acceptance of previous agreements, including the Roadmap. Contacts are maintained with President Abbas who committed himself to a platform of peace. The EU created together with other international actors such as the World Bank a Temporary International Mechanism, the objective of which is direct delivery and supervision of assistance from international donors to the Palestinian people. The reporting year was characterised by internal Palestininan fighting that caused many casualties and the failure of the Palestinian Authority to restore the rule of law to the Palestinian Territories.

The EU continued to have serious human rights issues with Israel. They relate in particular to the situation of the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, the closures and restrictions of movement, the settlement building and expansion, the construction of the barrier on Palestinian land as well as the demolition of Palestinian homes which threaten to make any solution based on the co-existence of two states physically impossible. The EU expressed also its worries about the situation in and around Jerusalem and in the Jordan Valley as well as about Israeli military operations resulting in civilian casualties. These issues were reiterated strongly by the EU and raised with the Israeli side during the political dialogue carried out at all bilateral meetings held in the framework of the EU-Israel Association Agreement, notably at the EU-Israel Association Council on 13 June 2006, the Association Committee on 17 May 2006 and the Subcommittee on Political Dialogue and Cooperation on 21 November 2005.

In the framework of the EU-Israel ENP Action Plan which is now being implemented, both sides agreed to achieve closer political co-operation and dialogue on the basis of their common values, i.e. the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, democracy, good governance and international humanitarian law. The Action Plan contains a specifi c section on human rights and fundamental freedoms with concrete actions to be implemented. The EU expects these issues to be followed up. The EU-Israel human rights working group which was established at the subcommittee on Political Dialogue and Cooperation of 21 November 2005 is intended to become a forum in which these issues could be more thoroughly discussed and examined. Its fi rst meeting was held on 7 June 2006. ItPage 71provided an opportunity to address some of the most pressing human rights issues thereby laying the basis for establishing a closer dialogue with Israel on these matters. Among the topics discussed were the situation of minorities and international humanitarian law issues. The EU raised specifi c issues of concern, notably the eff ect of the barrier and restriction of movement within the Palestinian territories on the lives and livelihood of the Palestinians, the access especially of humanitarian NGOs to the occupied Palestinian Territories, the loss of civilian lives at extra-judicial killing operations, and the practice of the administrative detentions. With regard to the situation of minorities, the EU enquired about the implementation of the recommendations of the “Or Commission” and the “Lapid Committee” and raised the issue of the “Nationality and Entry into Israel” Law which prevents family reunifi cation of certain Israeli and Palestinian spouses and children. The meeting concluded on an understanding that both sides saw value in continuing this dialogue.

The EU continued its regular dialogue on human rights issues with Jordan in the framework of the institutional structure set up by the EU-Jordan Association Agreement and within the priorities for action defined in the EU-Jordan ENP Action Plan. Discussions took place notably at the Association Council on 21 November 2005 and the Association Committee on 28 June 2006. Jordan presented the progress made in implementing its political reform programme. The Jordanian “National

Agenda”, an ambitious reform programme of more than 3000 pages, was fi nalised in November 2005. The Jordanian government is currently working towards programmes aimed at building a framework for implementation of the reforms suggested. Priorities for action include the political parties' law, the municipalities law, the law on the creation of an ombudsman, the anti-corruption and the anti-money-laundering law, and – following the terrorist attacks in Amman on 9 November 2005 – the anti-terrorism law. The EU encouraged Jordan to continue on this path while taking into account also the principles of human rights and fundamental freedoms. EU off ered its support to Jordan in this task.

The EU continued to follow-up human rights situation in Egypt. The work carried out by the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) in defending human rights and in raising awareness on human rights norms as well as the second annual report of the NCHR demonstrated the Council's evident wish to address a range of issues in a positive and frank manner. The EU looks forward to the National Plan on human rights which the NCHR is currently preparing. Egypt has taken considerable steps in improving status of women and children. Egypt has also taken some positive measures in the areas of detention of suspects and easing of harsh penalties. However, there are causes for concern. Those include harsh treatment of opposition, treatment of minorities, alleged use of torture, handing down of death sentences on persons convicted of crimes, and the continuation of the state of emergency, that has been in force since 1981.

The EU has urged Egypt to continue to take steps to encourage civil society development and to ensure freedom of association and expression. Negotiations on the ENP Action Plan continued. The planned sub-committee on political matters: human rights and democracy, international and regional issues will constitute a central mechanisms for a strengthened dialogue on concrete human rights issues. The EU hopes that an agreement on how to deal with individual human rights cases in the subcommittee could be reached as soon as possible. The EU is ready to identify with the Egyptian authorities areas where it may provide practical support for the furthering of Egypt's own reform measures in the area of human rights.

While Libya continued to make further progress in reintegrating with the international community, there remained serious concerns over the human rights situation, in particular with regards to civil liberties, political rights and freedom of expression. The EU approached the Libyan authorities on the use of the death penalty at the end of 2005. A matter of special concern continued to be the case of the imprisoned Bulgarian and Palestinian medics currently under retrial after the death sentences handed down in May 2004 were turned over by the Libyan High Court in December 2005. The EU welcomed the repeal of the verdicts. Further relying on the impartiality of the Libyan judicial system, it is expecting the new trial to follow this positive pattern and to produce a judgment that will best serve the justice. The EU is working actively on the fair settlement of the issue by initiatives, aimed at alleviating the human tragedy in Benghazi.”

Morocco continued on its path of introducing greater political reforms and freedoms and made good progress in the human rights fi eld. The EU supported this action through the EU- Morocco ENP Action Plan which contains a detailed section on the priorities for action on human rights, state of law and democratisation. The Justice and Reconciliation Commission (Instance Equité et Réconciliation, IER), set up to investigate the human rights abuses between 1956 and 1999, delivered its fi nal report in November 2005. The work carried out by the body was highly valued inside Morocco and outside. It came up with a number of recommendations including to amend the Constitution with a view to strengthening the human rights guarantees. The programme to modernise the judiciary in order to strengthen its independence and impartiality and to fi ght corruption was continued. The Moroccan civil society became more active and influential and there was some improvement in press freedoms. The EU continued, however, to have concerns over some provisions limiting the freedom of expression and invited the Moroccan government to review in particular certain provisions on which basis journalists risk being fi ned to high penalties or prison sentences.

While the EU was generally satisfi ed with developments in Morocco, it continued to have concerns over the reported treatment of Sahrawi human rights defenders subsequent to the events which erupted in Western Sahara in May 2005. HumanPage 72rights violations reported included restrictions on the right of association and expression as well as excessive use of force by the police, arbitrary arrests, allegations of torture and questions about the fairness of the trials and the prison sentences handed down in these cases. The EU raised these issues with the Moroccan authorities at several occasions. The EU has démarched on the issue of human rights in Saharan refugee camps.

Human rights and democratisation issues were systematically discussed within the regular structures set up by the EU- Morocco Association Agreement, notably at a meeting held in the framework of the reinforced political dialogue on 9 November and the EU-Morocco Association Council on 22 November 2005. The EU has welcomed Morocco's readiness to engage in a closer dialogue on all of these issues. Morocco already in 2003 agreed in principle to the establishment of a specifi c body to examine further these questions, the EU-Morocco Subcommittee on human rights, democracy and governance. This body is now operational and the first meeting is planned for October- November 2006.

The EU observed a further deterioration of the human rights situation in Syria. The treatment of political opponents, human rights defenders and civil society activists gave rise to serious concern. Specifi c issues of concern included the practice of arbitrary detention and incommunicado detention as well as the widespread use of torture. Human rights defenders were subject to intimidation and under the consistent threat of arbitrary arrests and political trials, including before the State Security Courts. During the reporting period, the EU expressed at several occasions its concern about arrests and trials against human rights defenders. Military courts and the State Security Court established under the Emergency Law in force since 1963 coexist with ordinary courts. Trials in front of these courts do not fulfi l international standards and there are general concerns with regards to the independence of judges. The EU tried to be present at these court sessions, a practice that was widely tolerated by the authorities which is to be noted as a positive development.

In January 2006 five political opponents of the 2001 “Damascus Spring” were released, including the parliamentarians Riad Seif and Mamoun Homsi whose release had been demanded by the European Parliament. This step was welcomed by the EU Presidency which expressed the hope that it would be followed by a release of all political prisoners. Upon release they were however confronted with repeated acts of intimidation, questioning and temporary detention. Since then there was a further crackdown on human rights activists. In February 2006, the EU Civil Society Training Centre, supported through the EIDHR, was closed by the Syrian authorities two days after it had been opened, on allegations that procedures had not been observed. In May 2006, following the signature by more than hundred Syrians of a joint Syrian-Lebanese Declaration calling for the establishment of a normal relationship between the two countries, the most prominent signatories were arrested, including the designated director of the EU Civil Society Training Centre, a well-known human rights lawyer. The EU raised these cases with the Syrian authorities and made a public statement on 19 May 2006.

The situation of the Kurdish minority and in particular the discrimination which the 200.000-300.000 stateless Kurds face continued to be closely followed by the EU and to be raised with the Syrian authorities. While in the aftermath of the Kurdish riots in March 2004 the government had promised to redress some of the longstanding grievances, and internal discussions on practical steps were allegedly under way, they have so far not led to any results.

Since 2004 there has also been an increase in the number of arrests and prosecutions for alleged membership of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood (SMB) – an organisation which is outlawed in Syria. Cases of membership of the SMB are dealt with at the State Security Courts. And membership of the SMB can carry a death sentence, although in practice this is often reduced to a long prison sentence.

The Syrian authorities are very reserved on discussing human rights issues with outside interlocutors, considering it to be matters of national sovereignty. The EU looks forward to the establishment of a National Human Rights Council on which internal preparations had allegedly started. In the absence of a more structured institutional framework pending the signature of the Association Agreement, the EU main instruments were troika démarches, carried out at regular intervals, EU Presidency declarations and trial observations. Close contacts were maintained with civil society organisations. The EU missions in Damascus followed very closely the evolution of the human rights situation and had regular consultations.

The EU-Ukraine Action Plan contains a section on Human Rights and fundamental freedoms. This political agreement established that Ukrainian commitment to shared values such as human rights, democracy, and rule of law would set up the pace of EU-Ukraine relations and would be the key element infl uencing the development of all areas of EU-Ukraine cooperation. In line with GAERC conclusions from 21 February 2005, the EU has already started an internal discussion on possible elements for the future EU-Ukraine agreement. Respect for human rights and rule of law are common values that will remain as priority areas in this new enhanced agreement.

Implementation of the EU-Ukraine Action Plan is underway, a mid-term assessment will take place at the EU-Ukraine Cooperation Council in the second semester 2006. However, it was already possible to note a considerable improvement on the human rights situation in Ukraine after the so called “orange revolution” at the end of 2004, notably in the areas of media freedom, fi ghting corruption, and judicial reform. Much remains to be done and EU is working closely with Ukrainian authorities assisting on the implementation of the democratic reforms. The EU carried out a démarche in Kiev onPage 73the deportation of ten Uzbek refugees by Ukrainian authorities in mid-February. Also at several political dialogue meetings with Ukraine, the EU strongly condemned this fact and called upon the Ukrainian authorities to fully respect human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Since 13 May 2005, Ukraine has been invited to align with EU declarations and common positions on issues of foreign policy. Ukraine has aligned in almost all statements regarding human rights situation in third countries.

The three year EU-Moldova Action Plan, implemented since February 2005, contains a section on human rights and fundamental freedoms. This political agreement establishes Moldova's commitment to shared values, including human rights, democracy and rule of law as the basis of EU-Moldova relations. In 2006 the EU continued to support the implementation of the Moldovan National Action Plan for Human Rights approved by Moldovan government in 2003 and included as a priority area in the TACIS indicative programme for assistance for Moldova for 2005-2006.

On 14 February 2006 a Council Decision 2006/96/CFSP was given in order to continue implementing the Common Position (2004/622/CFSP) of 26 August 2004 concerning restrictive measures against several high-level Transnistrian offcials involved in the closure of Moldovan language schools by force. During the year, EU paid attention to the case of Mr Pasat, who was arrested on unclear grounds on 11 November 2005. The HOMS have been able to visit Mr Pasat and inspect the conditions of his imprisonment.

EU welcomed Moldovan Parliament's decision to abolish death penalty on 29 June 2006. Prior the decision the article 24 of the Moldovan Constitution had provided for death penalty for offences made during war or risk of war.

6.1.3. Russia and Central Asia

The EU continues to have concerns about human rights in Russia, and in particular about the human rights situation in Chechnya, the situation of NGOs, rule of law and freedom of the media.

Having agreed at the EU-Russia Summit in The Hague in November 2004 to start a regular human rights dialogue, EU-Russia consultations on human rights are now held on a semestrial basis. Consultations were held in Brussels on 8 September 2005 and in Vienna on 3 March 2006 (see chapter 3.4.3 for more detail).

Whilst recognising the genuine security problems that Russia has to deal with, the EU remains highly concerned about the serious human rights situation in Chechnya, and raises these concerns on a regular basis with Russian interlocutors at all levels. There continues to be regular reports of disappearances, of torture and of pro-Moscow armed groups operating with impunity. In February 2006, the United Nations' High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour visited the North Caucasus. Following this visit, she expressed concerns regarding the integrity of certain institutions, especially in the area of law enforcement. She also highlighted serious shortcomings of the law enforcement system in the Republic, which lead to a climate of fear prevailing in Chechnya.

The EU discussed Chechnya in depth with Russia during each Human Rights consultation, and encouraged Russia to strengthen co-operation with international human rights mechanisms. The EU also sought assurances on protection of human rights activists. In collaboration with the Russian authorities, the EU is currently developing a programme of social and economic assistance for the North Caucasus, which it will soon be able to implement.

The first legislative elections in eight years took place in Chechnya on 28 November 2005. Unfortunately the EU and the OSCE were not able to observe these elections on security grounds. The EU however supported the training of local observers for these elections. Just after the vote, the EU Presidency produced a statement which noted that the vote could not be considered perfect and that some observers had raised concerns. It urged Russian authorities to investigate any reports of irregularities or intimidation. The statement concluded that the further strengthening of democratic institutions, as part of an inclusive political process, was essential for the sustainable and peaceful long-term development of Chechnya, as well as for peace and stability in the Northern Caucasus region as a whole.

There are reports that human rights NGOs are increasingly experiencing diffculties operating in Russia. The EU has repeatedly expressed concerns about the NGO legislation, which was adopted by the Duma and Federation Council at the end of December 2005, and signed by President Putin on 10 January 2006. The EU published a statement (19/01/2006) in which it reiterated its preoccupation that the law as it had been adopted could have a serious impact on the legitimate activity of civil society organizations in Russia. The declaration further announced that the EU would pay close attention to the implementation of the law when it would come into force and expressed its expectation that it would be implemented in line with standards and commitments undertaken in the framework of the Council of Europe and the OSCE. At the end of 2005- beginning of 2006, the Federal Security Service (FSB) reiterated its claims that some NGOs were working for foreign interests and against Russia.

There are reports of a growing problem with racism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia and extremism and restrictions on freedom of religion in Russia. Although Article 14 of the Russian Constitution says that Russia is a secular state, Russia's law enshrines Orthodox Christianity as the country's predominant religionPage 74and pledges respect only for Buddhism, Islam and Judaism. The law places restrictions on other groups. There have been repeated restrictions to the position and ability to practice of the Catholic Church and smaller minority religions such as Jehovah's Witnesses. The latter have been banned in Moscow and have experienced diffculties in other parts of the country as a result.

Ethnic minorities, in particular persons from Central Asia and the Caucasus, are frequently victims of ethnic discrimination and sometimes violence. This tendency has recently manifested itself in several highly publicised racist acts, including violent attacks and killings, such as the murder of a Peruvian student in Voronezh and of students from Mali and Cameroon in St Petersburg. NGOs report a rise in racist attacks from 119 in 2004 to 179 in 2005. A respected Russian NGO, Sova, reports figures of 366 racist attacks leading to 28 deaths in 2005. NGOs report that there are around 50,000 members of skinhead groups in Russia, with particular concentration in St Petersburg, and the numbers appear to be increasing. Russia's Human Rights Ombudsman, Vladimir Lukin, has accused law enforcement agencies of not taking suffcient steps to investigate and prevent extremism-related crimes. Several political parties resorted to xenophobic propaganda in their campaigns for regional legislative elections in 2005.

The case of Andrei Sychev, a 19-year-old conscript who had to have both his legs and his reproductive organs amputated due to gangrene, after he was severely beaten by drunken offcers and left without medical treatment for days, has attracted much media attention. The case became a public scandal not only due to its extreme brutality, but also due to the Defence Ministry's initial attempts to conceal the real cause of Sychev's condition. A similar tragic incident followed, bringing to the fore the longstanding problem of ‘hazing' (in Russian dedovshina – a practice of violence and humiliation imposed on new recruits), which is broadly acknowledged to be very widespread. The problem of abuses in the military is highlighted in human rights reports by Russian Ombudsman Lukin and also by CoE Commissioner Gil Robles. According to Defence Ministry statistics, 16 servicemen died as a direct result of hazing in 2005, 276 committed suicide, and 1,064 non-combat deaths were attributed to various causes. Experts believe that hazing is the primary cause of suicides in the armed forces, while there is concern that many deaths classed as ‘suicides' or ‘accidents' may be the result of hazing.

Russia has made great strides in democratic development over recent years, but the EU has concerns about recent changes to Russia's electoral system. Direct election of regional governors ended in 2004, and they are now nominated by the President and approved by the local legislature. President Putin has concentrated power in his own hands and substantially strengthened his authority vis-à-vis the Duma, the government and the regions. Currently there is little serious political opposition to the government.

On media freedom, the EU welcomes the fact that despite evidence of self-censorship by journalists, there is a relatively diverse print media in Russia. But while the printed press remains relatively free, there continue to be reports that regional and local authorities often seek to influence local media. State control of the broadcast media restricts national television in broadcasting a plurality of views. The climate of self-censorship among many Russian journalists has been reinforced by the government's failure to fi nd the killers of several journalists who have been murdered, presumably because of their work, since 2000.

The EU has continued to raise Human Rights issues in all Cooperation Committee and Co-operation Council meetings with Central Asian countries, as well as in the meetings in other format where such agreements are not in place.

Kazakhstan has engaged positively in these dialogues; but the EU has made it clear that it expects further progress in the fields of democratisation, freedom of the media and the rule of law. There have been positive evolutions, but the presidential elections did not meet international standards; more recently, obstruction against opposition parties and non-state controlled media has added to our concerns. There are serious concerns over the fairness in the key trial on the murder of opposition politician Sarsembayev. EU will continue to review the situation closely, especially in view of Kazakhstan's bid for the OSCE Chairmanship in 2009.

Uzbekistan has refused to respond to the EU, OSCE and UN requests of an independent enquiry into the ‘Andijan events' (which ended in the killing of hundreds of civilians by the security forces) in May 2005. The subsequent trials (partly monitored by ODIHR) did not meet basic criteria of openness and fairness. Uzbekistan has not responded to the ODIHR reports on trials. The human rights situation has deteriorated across the board with the prosecution of human rights defenders, journalists and opposition members, as well as new legislation which has restricted the activities of NGOs and the media. The EUSR Jan Kubis visited once, but was not allowed back, the Personal Representative for Human Rights of High Representative Solana has not been allowed in the country, nor have his UN and OSCE counterparts. Other negative events have included the closure of the UNHCR offce and the closure of key international NGOs. Uzbekistan negotiated a new and much restricted mandate which reduces the role of the OSCE Centre to a Project Co-ordinator's Offce. On 3 October 2005, the

Council imposed restrictive measures on the Uzbek leadership, including a visa ban and an arms embargo on the country. These were confi rmed on 15 May 2006, they will be up for review this fall. The 60th UNGA III-committee adopted a resolution on Uzbekistan (see chapter 5.1 for details). Uzbekistan refuses to cooperate with 1503 procedures or UN Special rapporteurs. Torture is still reported to be prevalent in Uzbekistan.

With Turkmenistan, EU relations remain limited. During the annual Human Rights meeting (1 June 2006), the CouncilPage 75raised numerous issues of deep concern, ranging from the degradation of the educational system to a total lack of pluralism and freedom of the media, and including serious individual HR cases. The Government accepts this limited dialogue, but little has been achieved on concrete issues. The 60th UNGA III-committee adopted a resolution on Turkmenistan (see chapter 5.1 for details). Turkmenistan refuses to cooperate with UN Special rapporteurs. Harassment of human rights defenders remains a grave problem.

The EU welcomed the Kyrgyz Republic's courageous decision not to extradite to Uzbekistan the several hundreds of refugees who had crossed the border after the events in Andijan. However, four of them lost their fi nal appeal against extradition. Despite strong calls by the EU on the Kyrgyz authorities to abide by their international obligations equally in these cases, notwithstanding pressure from Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan extradited the four refugees, and an asylum seeker in August 2006. The EU deeply regrets this failure by the Kyrgyz authorities to honour their international commitments and has called on the Uzbek authorities to ensure that the individuals concerned are treated fairly in accordance with international standards.

The EU encouraged Tajikistan to continue on its road to stabilisation. The EU underlined that the fight against corruption should not result in stifling the growth of civil society. The EU will follow the next presidential elections closely and insists to see progress in respecting international standards, i.a. by following up ODIHR's recommendations from the last parliamentary elections.

and AU agreed at the ministerial troika meeting held in April 2005 to work together to strengthen the work of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights in supervising the implementation of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights. On 12 April 2005, the Council adopted a Common Position concerning Confl ict Prevention, Management and Resolution in Africa79. It aims mainly to take into account new developments in European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP), concretely, the Action Plan for ESDP support for Peace and Security in Africa, and Conclusions on Peace and Security in Africa, adopted in November 2004. The EU has also provided vital assistance to the AU and to African sub-regional organisations through funding the African Peace Facility. This has made a significant contribution to the AU's ability to deploy peacekeeping troops to Darfur. Funds from the Africa Peace Facility are also being used for peace support operations in Central African Republic (FOMUC) and in Comoros as well as for longer term capacity building programmes in the AU.

On 16 December 2005 the European Council adopted the EU Strategy for Africa80. It builds on important progress made by the Africans themselves. Its core principles are partnership based on international law and human rights, equality and mutual accountability. Its underlying philosophy is African ownership and responsibility, including working through African institutions.

The Strategy stipulates that successful development requires adherence to human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law, effective, well-governed states, and strong and effcient institutions.

In the Strategy, the EU undertakes to promote and protect human rights, including the rights of women, children and other vulnerable groups; help end impunity, including through the International Criminal Court; promote fundamental freedoms and respect for the rule of law in Africa, including through capacity- building for judicial systems, national Human Rights Commissions and civil society organisations. To this end, the EU will maintain the substantial funding under EC and member states' bilateral programmes. During the reference period, EUR 50 million were allocated under EDF 9 to help build the capacity of the African Union, building on the EUR 35 million already allocated for this purpose under the Africa Peace Facility.

The EU will support, through political dialogue and consultations with African partners, African eff orts to monitor and improve governance, including through supporting the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD)'s African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM). This should result in their goal of four completed reviews a year from 2006 being achieved and the development of a Governance Initiative to support national reforms triggered by the APRM process. It will develop a gov-

6.2. Africa

For several years, the EU has been seeking to adopt policies regarding human rights situations in Africa based on co-operation rather than confrontation, for instance through the dialogue established under the Cotonou Agreement. Accordingly, the EU has also sought to encourage regional groups such as the African Group at the UN to take charge, in co-operation with other groups such as the EU, of local situations involving human rights violations. However, when discussing the human rights situation in some specifi c African countries during UNGA Third Committee the African Group chose to close ranks to protect other African countries with no action-motions.

The Common Position on human rights, democratic principles, the rule of law and good governance in Africa78 is reviewed by the Council every six months. A review of the activities in furtherance of the Common Position was carried out on 22 November 2004. The EU also provided political and financial support for the African Union's (AU) governance agenda, including for electoral observation and the establishment of a Governance Unit at the AU Commission. The EUPage 76ernance facility in the European Neighbourhood Partnership Instrument.

The EU will support the fight against corruption, human traf- ficking, illegal drugs and organised crime and promote transparency to meet the aspirations of African citizens and to ensure Africa's wealth benefi ts its people. This will include helping improve public accountability and financial management systems in Africa, early ratifi cation by all EU member states and African partners of the UN Convention on Corruption, assisting proper management of conflict resources including timber as well as mineral resources, support to the Kimberly Process and to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).

The EU will support the growth of participatory democracy and accountability in Africa, including through support to African parliaments and civil society and an enhanced programme of election assistance and EU Electoral Observation Missions including a review of their remit in 2006.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), in the context of the persisting insecurity in its Eastern provinces, the numerous human rights violations occurring in the district of Ituri, the Kivus and Katanga raised serious concerns. Similarly, regarding the security sector including the current poor state of the Congolese armed forces (FARDC), only little progress could be achieved in the fight against impunity or in favour of respecting basic HR in this context. The Council has therefore been actively promoting the much needed security sector reform in DRC for which the ESDP advisory mission EUSEC was deployed. In close cooperation with the UN, EUSR Ajello regularly raised the issue of the appalling human rights situation, the lack of security in certain regions of DRC as well as the necessity of further security sector reform with the transition authorities. The 60th UNGA III-committee adopted a resolution on DRC (see chapter 5.1 for details).

The EU remains particularly concerned at the continuing human rights violations in Darfur, Western Sudan. The measures set out in articles 2, 3 and 4 of the Common Position concerning restrictive measures against Sudan,81 adopted on 30 May 2005, were reviewed in May 2006. The review established that said measures – concerning the restriction of movements and freezing of assets of those individuals who impede the peace process, constitute a threat to stability in Darfur and the region, commit violations of international humanitarian or human rights law or other atrocities, violate the arms embargo and/or are responsible for offensive military over flights in and over the Darfur region – were to remain in eff ect. Further, on 1 June 2006 the Council adopted an implementing decision to the Common Position 2005/411/CFSP in order to impose restrictive measures against four individuals, in accordance with United Nations Security Council resolution (UNSCR) 1672 (2006). At he 60th UNGA III-committee, EU narrowly lost a no-action motion on Sudan (see chapter 5.1 for details).

The Council on various occasions expressed its deep concern at the continuing violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in Darfur. For instance, in its conclusions of 15 May 2006, the Council recalled its support for sanctions against those blocking the peace process, committing human rights violations, or violating the cease-fire and the arms embargo and con- firmed its position that full use should be made of the measures set out in UN Security Council Resolution 1591 (2005). The Council reiterated its full support for the ongoing investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC) of human rights abuses in Darfur and urged all parties, in particular the Government of Sudan, to fully cooperate with the ICC.

In the framework of the regular Article 8 political dialogue with Sudan, a number of dialogue meetings have been especially dedicated to human rights issues.

The situation of human rights in Ethiopia after the Parliamentary elections on 15 May 2005 has been followed by the EU with particular attention. Following the violence at the beginning of June, the EU urged the government and the security forces to show restraint and to respect international human rights. Throughout the post-electoral political crisis, in the framework of the Article 8 dialogue, EU representatives raised with the Ethiopian authorities issues such as the need to respect human rights and to investigate the post-electoral violence, among other issues. Following the new upsurge of violence at the beginning of November 2005 and the arrests of opposition leaders, editors and journalists, and civil society representatives, the EU, together with the whole donor community, made clear its deep concern, urging an end to indiscriminate beatings and massive arrests and calling for the release of all political detainees. Since then, EU representatives have repeatedly expressed to the Ethiopian authorities strong concerns about the situation of human rights in the country and the situation of the detainees, demanding respect for human rights and the rule of law, as well as the release of all detainees arrested after the June and November political demonstrations and respect for the rights of those remaining in detention. The EU has been monitoring the trials of the detainees from the very beginning by the representatives of the Embassies in Addis Abeba as well as by a lawyer following the commonly approved Terms of Reference.

The EU also focused on the situation in Northern Uganda, expressing its concern at the continuing confl ict, which has caused serious security problems and a grave humanitarian situation. In its conclusions of 15 May 2006, the Council, recalling the Government of Uganda's primary responsibility for addressing the confl ict and its grave humanitarian impact it has had, called upon the government to further increase protection of its citizens in Northern Uganda. As to the indictments by the ICC against five commanders from the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), the Council considered the issuing of the warrants asPage 77engage in activities, which seriously undermine democracy, respect for human rights and rule of law in Zimbabwe. An embargo on the supply of arms and equipment intended for military operations is also in force.

A historic first step and reiterated its view that there should be no impunity for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The Council called on the government of Uganda and neighbouring countries to work together to eff ect the arrest warrants.

During the period covered by this report, the Council adopted Common Position 2006/31/CFSP of 23 January 200682 concerning restrictive measures against Liberia, in order to give effect to Security Council Resolution 1647. As a consequence, the measures adopted by Common Position 2004/137/CFSP83 are extended: the arms embargo and travel restrictions on certain individuals are extended for a further period of twelve months, while restrictive measures on diamonds and timber products originating in Liberia are extended for a further period of six months.84 Following Security Council Resolution 1689 of 20 June 2006, lifting restrictive measures on timber on the condition that appropriate forestry legislation is passed, the Council will reconsider its position shortly. Council Common Position 2004/487/CFSP, concerning restrictive measures against former President Taylor and certain of his close relatives, remains in force.85

On 23 January 2006, the Council adopted Common Position 2006/30/CFSP86, renewing restrictive measures imposed against Côte d'Ivoire by Common Position 2004/852/CFSP87. These measures, in application of UN Security Council Resolution 1572, include a travel ban and freeze of assets on certain individuals considered to hinder the peace agreement and an arms embargo. In addition, Common Position 2006/30/CFSP prohibits all imports of rough diamonds from Côte d'Ivoire into the EU, in accordance with UN Security Council resolution 1643. On 15 May 2006, the Council adopted conclusions welcoming the changed mood in Côte d'Ivoire following the appointment of Mr Konan Banny as Prime Minister, allowing the revival of the peace process as defi ned by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1633 under which free, open, fair and transparent elections must be held no later than 31 October 2006.

The EU has continued to follow closely human rights situation in Zimbabwe especially the aftermath of operation “Restore Order” of May 2005. The EU has urged the Government of Zimbabwe to address the distressing eff ects of the operation. Due to absence of progress in human rights situation in Zimbabwe, the Council renewed in January 2006 the Common position 2006/51/CFSP, first adopted on February 2002 (2002/145/CFSP), concerning restrictive measures against Zimbabwe. The restrictive measures consist of a ban on entry into the EU and a freeze on financial assets for individuals who

6.3. The Americas

At their IV Summit in Vienna (12 May 2006) the leaders of the EU, Latin America and the Caribbean countries underlined that democracy, development and respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms are basic principles of strategic bi-regional partnership. The parties reaffrmed their commitment to the eff ective promotion and protections of human rights and welcomed the creation of the Human Rights Council. The Heads of State and the Governments stressed their determination to work towards full gender equality and paying special attention to women, children, people with disabilities, indigenous people and minorities. They reiterated their determination to fight racism, all forms of discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance and to provide coherent and effective support and protection to individuals, organisations or institutions working for the promotion and protection of human rights, including human rights defenders.

During the past year the EU reiterated its concern over the human rights situation in Colombia and reaffrmed its solidarity with the Colombian people. The EU called upon all illegal armed groups to sincerely engage in the search for a negotiated solution to the internal armed confl ict, stressing the necessity to reach a humanitarian agreement while the confl ict continues. The Council repeated its demand that the illegal armed groups that still detain hostages release them immediately and unconditionally and demanded that they refrain from any future kidnapping. The EU also stressed the importance of ensuring the safety of those individuals, organisations and institutions, including human rights defenders, working for the promotion and protection of human rights, and of protecting the rights of persons belonging to minorities and indigenous peoples

Following the enactment of the Justice and Peace Law, the Council noted its concern that the Law does not take into suf- ficient account the principles of truth, justice and reparation in accordance with internationally agreed standards. The Council shared many of the concerns expressed by UNHCHR, including: the blurring of distinctions between “political” and other crimes; the short time allowed for the investigation of confessions and for the investigation of title assets that may have been acquired as the result of illegal activities; the restricted opportunities allowed for victims to claim reparations; the limited maximum sentences for the most serious of crimes; and the heavy resource pressures on the Colombian legal system in coping with the demands of the new law. Nevertheless the Council was of the opinion that if effectively and transparently implemented, the Law would make a positive contribution to the search for peace in Colombia. In the same vein the EUPage 78confirmed its willingness to work closely with the government, institutions and civil society of Colombia, as well as with the UNHCHR and others in monitoring the implementation of the judicial process established under the law. The Council also confi rmed the readiness of the EU and its Member States to assist the Colombian government and civil society in providing support for the communities aff ected by the internal confl ict and for the victims groups, as well as support for local reconciliation activities and the reinsertion and demobilisation of child soldiers, hereby complementing existing programmes developed by UNICEF and others.

On the 26 of June 2006 the EU published a declaration supporting the prolongation of the mandate of the offce of the UNHCHR. The Union is in favour of a continued strong role of the Offce and underlines the importance of the Colombian Government actively supporting and using the full range of services provided by the Colombian Offce of the UNHCHR.

The situation in Colombia will continue to be assessed. Particular importance will be given to the rulings of the Constitutional Court aiming notably at reinforcing the rights of victims.

In its recent conclusions on 12 June 2006 on the 16th evaluation of the Common Position, the Council deplored the further deterioration of the human rights situation in Cuba since the last evaluation in June 2005. The EU noted that according to Cuban human rights organisations the number of political prisoners in Cuba had risen over the past twelve months to more than 330 documented cases, including several individuals detained without charge or trial since 2005. In addition, hundreds of young Cuban citizens had been detained and sentenced under the Penal Code stipulation of “propensity to commit a crime”. The EU once again urged the Cuban government to unconditionally release all political prisoners, including the group of 75 who were detained and sentenced in 2003.

Of particular concern has, since July 2005, been the staging of several dozen acts of violent harassment and intimidation, including acts of repudiation. The Council expressed its concern at reports that some acts of repudiation are taking place with the collusion of police and security forces. In any case, the Cuban authorities are not fulfilling their obligations to protect all citizens. The Council urgently called on the Government of Cuba to take prompt action to stop the ongoing harassment and to undertake every effort to effectively prevent its resumption. The EU strongly condemned these acts and other restrictions of fundamental civil and political rights, which are guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights obligations to which Cuba, as a UN member and signatory of relevant Declarations, is party. The EU reminded the Cuban authorities of their responsibilities, in particular as regards the basic rights of free access to information, freedom of expression, association and assembly, privacy and due process of law. The EU also recalled the commitments required of all members elected to Human Rights Council to uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights. The EU will continue to monitor closely policies of the Cuban government with respect to human rights.

The EU has on several occasions used encounters with members of Cuban government to bring up human rights problems in Cuba. Regrettably, those attempts have not been fruitful as Cuba considers démarches related to human rights as interference with its internal affairs, this way limiting the activities of the EU to moral and, to the extent possible, logistical and material support to human right activists and defenders. The EU would welcome the resumption of a political dialogue with the Cuban authorities. This dialogue should include the issue of human rights and take place on a reciprocal and non-discriminatory basis. The EU has urged the Cuban government, with a view to promoting a positive and mutually beneficial dialogue, to show its commitment to dialogue by making concrete improvements in the human rights situation. The Council has also underlined that every high-level visitor should raise human rights concerns with the Cuban authorities.

The EU notes with satisfaction that Venezuela has ratifi ed all important international conventions and guarantees basic Human rights in its constitution. In practice, these rights are not, however, always implemented or respected. The EU notes with concern that there are signs of authoritarian governance, insuffcient independence and authority of the judiciary and corruption in the police force. Other issues of concern include the increased degree of violence as well as kidnappings. The EU also follows closely some court cases against opposition members and human rights defenders.

The EU has noted the signifi cant steps taken by Mexico in promoting the respect for human rights. Nevertheless, the human rights situation in Mexico continues facing signifi cant challenges. A major justice and law reform, which would have addressed many of the structural problems leading to human right abuses, remained stalled in the Mexican congress. The visit of Personal Representative of SG/HR to Mexico (2.-3.9.2005) proved very useful in reinforcing local EU eff orts to promote human rights, not least by underlining the importance the EU places on this issue. Since 2002, Mexico and the European Commission have cooperated in the area of human rights, through the EIDHR.

The EU is concerned by the high level of violence and insecurity in Guatemala, a situation that endangers and hinders eff orts to improve development and respect for human rights. The EU keeps a continued dialogue with the Government of Guatemala on human rights issues. The Vice President Stein's visit to Brussels, where he met SG/HR and addressed the regional Working Group, concentrated mainly on HR issues. The Personal representative of SG/HR expressed EU's concerns over the human rights situation, specifically on issues such as adoptions, death penalty and the ratification of the ICC, during his visit to Guatemala. The EU also made a démarche to the GuatemalanPage 79government on the ICC and conveyed a disquiet with the situation of HR defenders.

The EU has with concern noted the growth in the number of criminal youth-gangs (Maras) across Central America, and therefore reviewed the security situation and policies in the countries most aff ected by this form of violence, especially Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. The EU has pointed out the need for a public security reform and a comprehensive approach to this issue and to regional cooperation. The EU will include the Maras issue and related security problems in the San José Political Dialogue.

The EU has supported the UN Security Council's peacekeeping operation in Haiti, MINUSTAH, the mandate of which includes the protection of human rights. The EU election observer mission played positive role in recent Haitian elections. The EU has committed itself to assisting the Haitian Government in the process of national reconciliation and in particular to the restoration of political stability, the improvement of the security and human rights situation and to the re-launching of economic recovery in Haiti.

During the past year the EU carried out several démarches in the Caribbean on death penalty and the ICC.

6.4. Asia

Despite the formidable challenges and concerns that continue to characterize the human rights arena in Afghanistan, there has been steady progress since the Bonn Agreement of 2001. The EU, based upon the fi ndings of its observer mission, has acknowledged the success of the parliamentary and provincial council elections held on 18 September 2005 as well as the successful forming of the parliament in November. The new parliament reflects the political and ethnic diversity of Afghanistan with 27 per cent of all seats occupied by women. Women received 121 out of the available 420 seats in the provincial councils although their representation in the national government seems to decrease. In mid-November, with the Bonn process drawing to a close, the EU and Afghanistan adopted a Joint Political Declaration setting out a new partnership and reaffrming the EU's long-term commitment to Afghanistan. The EU committed itself to the Afghanistan Compact and the interim Afghanistan National Development Strategy, both of which represent the fi nal documents of the London Conference held in January 2006. The Afghanistan Compact features governance, rule of law and human rights as one of its three main pillars.

The EU remained concerned about the imposition of the death penalty. Women in Afghanistan continue to face serious restrictions in the exercise of their rights, including obstacles to education, widespread discrimination, limited access to justice and pervasive violence against women and girls. The Offce of the EU Special Representative continues to engage closely in the human rights fi eld. Governments plans to establish a Department of the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice should be closely followed.

Concern continued to rise in the EU at the state of governance in Bangladesh. The scale of the challenges facing the country was cast into sharp relief by the detonation of around 500 bombs on 17 August 2005. In the wake of this attack the EU stepped up its monitoring of the situation in Bangladesh, and decided to send a Troika of Regional Directors to visit Dhaka in January 2006. This delivered a number of targeted messages to government, opposition and civil society, including a call for establishment of a National Human Rights Commission, which has been pending for several years.

The EU's relations with India continued to develop, as befi tting one of the EU's six strategic partners. On 7 September 2005, the EU-India Summit in New Delhi adopted a Joint Action Plan covering a wide range of policy areas, including democracy and human rights. Under this heading it was agreed to continue dialogue on human rights in multilateral and bilateral settings, with the objective of building greater mutual understanding. The EU Troika and its Indian counterparts held a meeting on human rights on 1 December 2005 in New Delhi. Since then, the EU has welcomed India's election as a founder member of the UN Human Rights Council, and is working with it there.

The EU has welcomed the steps taken in the Composite Dialogue between India and Pakistan, which is helping to create an atmosphere more favourable to addressing human rights in Kashmir.

Pakistan continues to face a unique set of problems in the fi eld of human rights. A few of the most signifi cant human rights violations during the reporting period are the continuing high number of death sentences, that blasphemy laws are increasingly used to solve disputes unrelated to religion and that up to 90 % of women in Pakistan are subject to domestic violence with the number of incidences growing. These were a major subject for discussion during the visit to Islamabad by an EU Troika of Political Directors, on 27 September 2005 – nevertheless the number of executions has increased dramatically in 2005 (over 50) and in 2006 (over 40). Soon afterwards Pakistan found itself facing fresh rights challenges following the earthquake that struck Kashmir on 8 October 2005, when the EU moved swiftly to provide substantial assistance. A positive sign is the discussion on a bill to parliament by the Government amending the Hudood Ordinance. More generally, the EU has continued to highlight to government the importance of the rule of law as a basic prerequisite for the protection of human rights.

Human rights in Nepal were under particularly severe pressure following the King Gyanendra's proclamation of a state of emergency on 1 February 2005. This was largely relieved, however, on 24 April 2006, when a new royal proclamation reinstated the House of Representatives. The EU spoke out clearly against the king's direct rule, including through the visit

The EU has continued to promote the peace process in Sri Lanka, as one of the Co-Chairs of the 2003 Tokyo Conference. The EU has strongly supported Norway in urging the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to respect the 2002 ceasefi re and resume direct talks. Unfortunately, both sides failed to take advantage of the opportunity for reconciliation presented by the 2004 Tsunami and the situation started to deteriorate rapidly in the spring 2006. Faced with increasing levels of violence towards civilians, the EU finally decided to list the LTTE as a terrorist organisation on 31 May 2006.

Since the announcement in June 2004 of wide-ranging political reforms in the Maldives, the EU has stepped up its dialogue with both government and opposition, aimed at promoting dialogue.

Two EU fact-fi nding missions to the Maldives have received good co-operation from the authorities, including in gaining access to detainees. The EU has constantly encouraged the Government to commit itself fully to democratic reforms by setting clear and time-sensitive milestones, and to take greater advantage of foreign expertise and advice in the reform process

The ongoing systematic violations of human rights in Burma/ Myanmar have been the object of several EU declarations or Presidency statements. The Presidency of the EU has, for example, on 29 May 2006 condemned the decision of the Burmese government to extend the house arrest of National League for Democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and called on the military regime to release Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and all other political prisoners and to engage all political and ethnic forces of the country in a genuine dialogue with a view to bringing about true national reconciliation and the establishment of democracy.

The EU also regularly raises the human rights situation in Burma/Myanmar in meetings with Asian partners in order to communicate the EU's concerns and to encourage them to take a stronger position in favour of democratic transition in Burma/Myanmar. With like-minded partners, the EU regularly examines how to step up efforts to pressure for change in the country. The EU remains concerned about the events that have led to an increasing number or people fleeing in particular from Karen State. The persistence of reports of forced labour in Burma/Myanmar is also of serious concern. The EU further renewed in April 2006 for another 12 months its Common Position on restrictive measures against those in Burma/Myanmar who benefit most from its misrule and those who actively frustrate the process of national reconciliation, respect for human rights and democracy.

The 60th UNGA III-committee adopted a resolution presented by EU on Burma/Myanmar (see chapter 5.1 for details).

In January 2006, the EU expressed concern about what it then saw as a deteriorating political situation in Cambodia culminating in the arrest of the Director of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights at the end of December 2005. While the subsequent release of this human rights defender and others arrested following the events at the Human Rights Day ceremony on 10 December 2005, gave some reassurance the EU continues to follow the developments in Cambodia closely. Recent reports of corruption are also a serious concern for the EU. Land grabbing in Cambodia remains a problem aff ecting especially the poor.

Laos continues to be a one-party state with restrictions on a number of civil and political rights.

Prison conditions remain a matter of serious concern. The EU remains concerned about the situation of Lao Hmongs, including the fate of 26 children whose repatriation to Laos from Thailand has been widely criticised. The EU is very concerned about an incident where a number of Lao Hmongs – women and children – were reportedly killed in Luang Prabang province in Laos. The EU supports Lao eff orts towards ratifying and implementing international law and other eff orts towards consolidating rule of law in Laos.

In Thailand, the level of violence in the far south continues to be a matter of serious concern. The EU has remained in close contact with the Thai government over developments, and has expressed its concern over the loss of life, which exceeds 1000 civilians and members of the security forces since January 2004. The report of the National Reconciliation Commission, chaired by the former Prime Minister Anand Panyarachun, has been released but its recommendations have not been offcially endorsed nor widely discussed in public. Various disappearances have not been solved, including the case of the human rights lawyer Somchai Neelapachit. The current crisis of Thai politics overshadowed the situation in the south of Thailand.

During the period under review the EU remained committed to promote human rights in China in an active, sustained and constructive way. A constructive dialogue remains the Union's preferred channel for working to improve the human rights situation in China. Human rights are discussed between the EU and China in the framework of both their political dialogue as well as a specific dialogue on Human rights (see also chapter 3.4.2). The Eighth EU-China Summit held on 5 September 2005 in Beijing reaffrmed the commitment to further enhance co-operation and exchanges in this fi eld. The 20th EU-China Human Rights Dialogue was held in Beijing on 24 October, the 21st round was held in Vienna on 25-26 May 2006. The dialogues concentrated on i.a. restrictions on the freedom of expression andPage 81religion, the death penalty, the administrative detention and the system of re-education through labour. The EU expressed concern regarding freedom of religion and rights of persons belonging to minorities in Tibet and Xinjiang and pressed for the implementation of recommendations made by the Special Rapporteur on torture, Manfred Nowak, following his recent visit. In the framework of the human rights dialogue, the EU handed over a list of individual cases of concern. The EU also démarched on various occasions on individual cases concerning human rights. The EU and Chinese authorities organised two human rights seminars within the framework of the dialogue, one in London, on 12-13 December 2005 and one in Vienna on 22-23 May 2006.

One of the main concerns is the issue of freedom of expression, following worrying trends in China towards more restrictions in the media and on the internet, arrests and intimidation of journalists and individuals, as well as closure of newspapers. New legal, technological and political means of monitoring and restricting the flow of information and expression in various media were in use, including restrictions in areas where citizens had earlier enjoyed freedoms, such as on private blogs on the internet. As a special topic the EU has focused on human rights education and women human rights defenders. The EU expects China to ratify the ICCPR that China is committed to as soon as possible.

Administrative sentences in the form of re-education through labour continue to constitute a serious violation of human rights. After some legislative steps, it is expected that death penalty appeals will be handled in a more open way, but China continues not to disclose death penalty statistics raising concern over the number of people executed annually. Minorities in Xinjiang face repression because of central fears of Uyghur activists seeking independence for East Turkestan.

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) is widely considered to have one of the worst human rights records in the world. In the autumn in EU sponsored a country-specifi c resolution at UNGA III-committee in which the EU urged the DPRK to respect fully all human rights and fundamental freedoms, to ensure the quality of humanitarian assistance, and to fully cooperate with the UN Special Rapporteur (see chapter 5.1 for details). The UNGA resolution proposed UN action, should the DPRK continue to ignore CHR requests for improvement.

In the spring of 2006 the EU has made special efforts to convince DPRK to abstain from death penalty and has further underlined the desirability for the DPRK to engage with the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the DPRK, Professor Vitit Muntarbhorn. The EU is worried about the diffculties faced by European NGO's and humanitarian aid agencies owing to restrictive measures taken by Pyongyang.

In Indonesia the EU recognises a new resolve by the government to address human rights concerns. The EU remains, however, concerned about human rights situation in certain regions such as Papua and Central Sulawesi. The EU has further démarched on the death penalty in Indonesia and remains concerned about diffculties to bring perpetrators of serious human rights violations to justice. The EU has also addressed the situation of religious minorities in talks with the Indonesian government.

The EU has been able to contribute to a considerable improvement of the human rights situation in the province of Aceh through the Aceh Monitoring Mission, human rights monitoring being one of its key tasks. This was also evidenced by the appointment of a deputy Head of Mission for reintegration, amnesty and human rights (see box on AMM in chapter 3.1 for details).

The EU paid strong attention to Timor-Leste which experienced a serious deterioration in its internal security situation in spring 2006. Violence and turmoil endangered the achievements that the newest nation in Asia had made since gaining independence in 2002. The EU, also at the at the level of the European Council of June 2006, expressed great concern about the developments in the country and commended Portugal for sending policemen in response to calls of the East-Timorese government for assistance with upholding security on the ground. The EU stressed, that the justice for serious human rights violations in Timor-Leste in 1999 must be achieved. The EU also stressed the goal of the international community to support the country in re-establishing public order and pursuing reconciliation between the confl icting parties. The EU expressed in May 2006 concern about the developments in the country and welcomed positive responses by a number of governments to requests by the Government of Timor-Leste to assist in restoring and maintaining security in the country. The Commission, on 9 June 2006 has signed a country strategy paper and indicative programme which, alongside with support to rural development prioritizes institutional capacity building. The EU noted the beginning of the work of the offce of the Provedor for human Rights and Justice as a welcome and important step in Timor-Leste's progress towards full assumption of the state functions.

Despite steady progress in the field of human rights in the Philippines over the past few years, the EU was concerned about the state of emergency declared on 24 February 2006. The EU, in contacts with the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines, called on the government to respect human rights and rule of law, and expressed the expectation that the State of Emergency would be lifted early. The State of Emergency was indeed lifted on 3 March 2006, a week after its imposition. On a more positive note, the EU warmly welcomed the signing by President Arroyo on 24 June 2006 of the legislation abolishing the death penalty in the Philippines. The EU is constantly monitoring the human rights situation in the Philippines and has expressed its concern on the unsatisfactory implementation of most human rights conventions, covenants and treaties especially over the extra-judicial killings (of political activists,Page 82journalists, human rights defenders, judges and lawyers). The Philippines was added to the list of priority countries in regard to Children and armed conflicts in April 2006.

6.5. The Middle East

Serious violations of human rights have continued to occur in Iran. There has been little or no progress in the EU's main areas of concern since the last Annual Report, in many respects the situation has worsened. Use of the death penalty is frequent, including in the case of child offenders. Freedom of expression is severly restricted. Reports of torture are frequent. Human rights defenders continue to report harassment and intimidation. Iran's treatment of religious and ethnic minorities and their economic and social discrimination continues to be of great concern to the EU. The EU remains concerned at the lack of eff ective action to reform the laws, institutions and offcial practices that allow human rights violations to occur.

EU representatives have raised human rights concerns with the Iranian authorities on many occasions during the period. The subjects discussed have included the imposition of sentences of death or lashing on juvenile offenders, the authorities' harassment of people reporting or expressing their opinions peacefully, and the persecution of religious minorities, especially concerning the Bahá'í and the Sufi community. The EU has also voiced its concern at the severe restrictions on freedom of expression and press, including the closure of newspapers, the clampdown on web-bloggers and the detention of political prisoners. There have been no sessions of the EU-Iran human rights dialogue in the period of this Report (see chapter 3.4.2 for more information). In December 2005, all EU member states co-sponsored a resolution on human rights in Iran at the United Nations General Assembly. The resolution expressed serious concern at continuing violations of human rights, and called on Iran to abide by its freely undertaken international obligations.

The promotion of democracy, human rights and the rule of law are key areas of focus in the EU's relations with Iraq. EU support to the constitutional and electoral processes in 2005 was considerable; besides significant funding, the EU also supplied a number of experts to work with the Independent Election Commission for Iraq in the run-up to the December elections. Through its Integrated Rule of law Mission for Iraq (EUJUST LEX), the EU has since July 2005 provided management and criminal investigation training in EU member states for some 700 senior offcials from across Iraq's police force, judiciary and penitentiary services. At Iraqi request, the mission has been extended for another 18 months until the end of 2007.

In September 2005, the EU and Iraq signed a Joint Declaration on Political Dialogue. The EU has used this dialogue to promote EU's human rights objectives and to raise its concerns regarding human rights in Iraq. The EU expressed its disappointment at the reintroduction of the death penalty in Iraq in September 2005, and has repeatedly called for its abolition since then.

Other concerns raised have included regulations governing the registration and operation of NGOs, and allegations of human rights violations by Iraqi Security Forces.

In June 2006, the European Council welcomed the new Iraqi government's programme for its commitment to upholding the rule of law, promoting national unity and reconciliation, and reaffrmed the EU's willingness to assist Iraq in these areas.

In Saudi Arabia, some positive developments took place over the past year, but the pace of reform remains slow. Improvements in the area of human rights included elections in professional organisations, the establishment of a Governmental Human Rights Commission and the continuation of a National Dialogue process. Public awareness of human rights issues in Saudi Arabia is also constantly increasing. In December, the EU welcomed the election of two women to the Board of Directors of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce, at the fi rst elections to a public body in Saudi Arabia open to female candidates. Serious concerns about the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia remain, however, and the EU has continued to raise these concerns with the Saudi authorities. Démarches have been made in particular regarding the application of the death penalty.

6.6. Analysis of country-focused actions

A horizontal view, even if it is rather brief and non-exhaustive, points at the fact that the volume of the EU's human rights related activities in different parts of the world has become quite important. The regional committees discuss regularly country and region specific human rights issues. The Personal Representative of the SG/HR for Human Rights has for instance visited regional committees and this has helped to highlight the implementation of the Unions human rights policy priorities and guidelines in the regional context.

Another example is the Aceh/Indonesia civil crisis management mission, where the HR monitoring was the first time a substantial part of the civil crisis management mission. There are still many possibilities to set up human rights mainstreaming in the EU policy implementation.

This development once more underscores the importance of on-going eff orts to promote mainstreaming of human rights, and the coherence and consistency of the EU`s and its member states policies and actions in the fi eld of human rights. The failures or inconsistencies in this respect would undermine the credibility of our policies.

Furthermore, looking at the EU's policy at country level highlights the very close linkage between human rights work and the promotion of democracy. The issues are closely interlinked in terms of substance, and the work to promote these objectives should not be separated. The close interaction with civil society and human rights defenders must also be highlighted in this context.


ST 14413/03



OJ L55, 25.02.2006, p 30

OJ L 26, 28.01.2005, p 3-220 (Art. 2)

Annex to the European Council ST 14413/03 Thessaloniki 19-20 June 2003

Stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and the respect for and protection of minorities; the existence of a functioning market economy; the capacity to cope with competitive pressure and market forces within the Union, and the ability to take on the obligations of membership, including adherence to the aims of political, economic and monetary union.

OJ L 306, 7.12.2000, p 1.

OJ L 35, 7.02.2006 (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro including Kosovo)

OJ L55, 25.02.2006, p 30(Croatia)

OJ L 158, 2.6.1998, p.1.

OJ L 97, 15.4.2005, p.57.

Doc 15702/1/05 The EU and Africa: Towards a Strategic Partnership

OJ L 139 of 2.6.2005, p.25.

OJ L 19, 24.1.2006, p. 38.

O J L 40, 12.2.2004, p. 35

OJ L 124, 20.5.2003, p. 49.

OJ L 162, 30.04.2004, p. 116.

OJ L 19, 24.1.2006, p. 36.

OJ L 368, 15.12.2004, p.50.

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