European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs adopted today with near unanimity the report of Heidi Hautala, Chairwoman of Subcommittee on Human Rights that sets out concrete recommendations on how the EU can protect human rights defenders better.[:] “The performance of the EU has been substandard and while the situation of the human rights defenders has worsened to alarming levels, the need to address our poor performance is evermore urgent”, Heidi Hautala stressed.
Human rights defenders are people who promote and protect universally recognised human rights and fundamental freedoms with peaceful means. They are often threatened, harassed and even killed while their families have also been targeted. The report has been prepared in close cooperation with the civil society.
One of the key recommendations of the report is to create so called human rights focal points into the European Parliament, the European External Action Service and the EU Delegations abroad. Much of the focus of the report is given to how the EU Delegations could better implement the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders. The report also proposes to grant visas for human rights defenders who are at risk and in emergency situations. In her report Hautala further recommends that urgency visas should also be accompanied by the launching of an EU programme of shelter cities for human rights defenders. The report also proposes that the new High Representative on Foreign Affairs, Ms Catherine Ashton and the EU Special Representatives should meet with human rights defenders personally when they visit third countries in their official capacity.
It is foreseen that the report will be presented in the European Parliament Plenary in June. Ms Hautala was pleased to learn that High Representative Ashton has expressed her interest in attending the occasion.
Please see below the official European Parliament press release on the adoption of the Report