Photo by George Pagan III on Unsplash
MEPs have backed three resolutions on the respect for human rights in Algeria, Belarus and Myanmar.
Deputies, at their session in Strasbourg, urged the Algerian authorities to “immediately release all those arbitrarily detained and charged for exercising their right to freedom of expression.”
They say these include the prominent journalist Ihsane El-Kadi, who was convicted in April to a five-year sentence and hefty fines on unfounded charges related to him allegedly having received funds for “political propaganda” and “harming the security of the state”.
El-Kadi was also ordered to dissolve his media company.
The MEP resolution calls on the Algerian authorities to amend security-related charges in the country’s penal code they say is “used to criminalise the right to freedom of expression.” It notes that, ever since the so-called Hirak protests in 2019, the situation of media freedom has taken a substantial turn for the worse in Algeria, with the authorities blocking more news sites and publications critical of the government.
The resolution asks all EU institutions and member states to “openly condemn the crackdown on media freedom in Algeria” while calling on the EU delegation and EU countries’ embassies on site to request access to imprisoned journalists and observe their trials.
MEPs also want the Algerian authorities to guarantee visa and accreditation authorisation to foreign journalists and their freedom to operate.
Turning to Belarus, Parliament urges authorities there “to cease the mistreatment of former presidential candidate Viktar Babaryka and other political prisoners and release them immediately and unconditionally.”
MEPs strongly condemn the “inhumane treatment of political prisoners and their family members” in the country and call on Belarus to ensure that those detained have access to proper medical assistance, lawyers, family, diplomats and international organisations to assess their condition and provide aid.
Babaryka was sentenced in July 2021 to 14 years in prison on politically motivated charges, and was hospitalised in April this year with traces of beatings leaving him in need of surgery. As part of what MEPs calls “the repression of the political opposition and civil society” the Belarusian regime is alleged to be keeping around 1,500 political prisoners in detention.
According to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the conditions “amount to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and torture, with some of them dying in detention.
MEPs on Thursday said they reiterate their solidarity with the people of Belarus “in their struggle for a free, sovereign and democratic government and against Belarus’ involvement in Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.”
They repeated their call from a resolution for the EU and member states to broaden the sanctions against individuals and entities responsible for the repression in Belarus “and to hold all perpetrators of the systematic human rights violations accountable.”
Finally, on Myanmar, MEPs “sstrongly condemned” the military junta’s “continued violent and illegitimate rule, which has plunged the country into a human rights and humanitarian crisis.”
As a result of the latest developments, Parliament called for the dissolved parties in Myanmar to be reinstated and urges the junta “to immediately and unconditionally release all political prisoners.”