Human rights: Mejlis ban in Crimea, arrests in The Gambia, elections in Djibouti
Parliament condemns the banning of the Mejlis, the representative body of ethnic Crimean Tatars, urges the immediate release of all protestors arrested in an April electoral reform demonstration in The Gambia, and calls for a thorough investigation into the transparency of the re-election of President Ismaïl Omar Guelleh in Djibouti, in three resolutions voted on Thursday.
MEPs strongly condemn the decision of the so-called Supreme Court of Crimea on 26 April 2016 to ban the Mejlis, the legitimate and recognised representative body of ethnic Crimean Tatars. They demand the immediate reversal of this decision, which they say constitutes "systemic and targeted persecution of Crimean Tatars" and "is an attempt to expel them from Crimea, which is their historical motherland".
They urge the Russian Federation, which under international humanitarian law bears ultimate responsibility as the occupying state in Crimea, to uphold the legal order in Crimea, protect citizens from arbitrary judicial or administrative measures, and conduct independent international investigations of any violations of international law or human rights committed by the occupying forces and the so-called local authorities.
The resolution also reiterates Parliament's severe condemnation of "the illegal annexation of the Crimean peninsula by the Russian Federation" on 20 February 2014, which it says was a "breach of international law", and also its "full commitment to the sovereignty, political independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders".
Parliament expresses its deepest concern about the rapidly-worsening security and human rights situation in The Gambia, deplores the attacks of 14 and 16 April 2016 against peaceful demonstrators, and calls for the immediate release of all protestors arrested during this demonstration for electoral reform ahead of presidential elections scheduled for December 2016. It also calls for swift and independent investigations into these events, and into the reported death in custody of opposition activist Solo Sandeng, a prominent leader in the main opposition United Democratic Party (UDP).
Parliament firmly condemns the forced disappearances, arbitrary detention, torture, and other human rights violations targeting dissenting voices against the government of President Yahya Jammeh, such as journalists, human rights defenders, political opponents and critics, as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.
While the international community should actively monitor the December elections, the EU and its member states should consider freezing all non-humanitarian assistance to the government of The Gambia and imposing travel bans or other targeted sanctions on officials responsible for serious human rights abuses, adds the resolution.
MEPs call for a thorough investigation into the transparency of the April 2016 elections in Djibouti, which produced a landslide vote of 87.1% in favour of a fourth five-year term for President Ismaïl Omar Guelleh. The poll was criticised by opposition parties and rights groups as having been obtained by political repression.
Fair elections, free from intimidation are important, say MEPs, repeating the EU's call for the results from each polling station in both the 2013 and 2016 elections to be published. The electoral experts mission offered by the EU to monitor the elections was turned down by the Djibouti authorities, they note.
The resolution also condemns acts of rape allegedly committed by Djibouti soldiers, reported by NGOs and highlighted by Djibouti women who went on hunger strike in Paris and Brussels to demand an international inquiry. Finally, it condemns the lack of an independent press in Djibouti, and the monitoring and censorship of websites critical of the government.