Human rights breaches in the Philippines, Iran and Burkina Faso

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This article is brought to you in association with the European Parliament.


On Thursday, Parliament adopted three resolutions on the human rights situation in the Philippines and Iran and the political crisis in Burkina Faso.

The recent human rights developments in the Philippines

Parliament strongly condemns the thousands of extrajudicial killings and other serious human rights violations related to President Rodrigo Duterte’s ‘war on drugs’ in the Philippines. It also condemns all intimidation and violence against those seeking to expose allegations of such abuses in the country, such as human rights activists, journalists and critics.

In particular, MEPs call for the Filipino authorities to stop ‘red-tagging’ organisations and individuals, such as trade unionists, human rights defenders and media representatives. ‘Red-tagging’ involves the government linking such associations and people to communist groups, which continues to result in killings, threats, warrantless arrests and harassment of oppositional voices.

While urging the Filipino authorities to thoroughly investigate any extrajudicial killings and similar violations, Parliament also calls on them to respect the right to freedom of expression, and to ensure that journalists can do their work without fear. It urges an end to the persecution of all independent journalists in the country, including Nobel Peace Prize laureate Maria Ressa.

The text was adopted by 627 votes in favour, 26 against and 31 abstentions. For further details, the full version of the report will be available here. (17.02.2022)

The death penalty in Iran

MEPs call on the Iranian government to introduce an immediate moratorium on the use of the death penalty as a step towards abolishing it and to commute all death sentences.

The text notes that since Ebrahim Raisi took office as President of Iran in August 2021, there has been a significant rise in the number of executions, including of women. It also points out that the death penalty in Iran is disproportionally applied to ethnic, religious and other minorities, notably the Baluch, Kurds, Arabs and Baha’is as well as LGBTIQ persons.

In addition, Parliament urges the authorities in Iran to urgently amend Article 91 of the country’s Islamic Penal Code to explicitly prohibit the use of the death penalty for crimes committed by persons below 18 years of age, under all circumstances.

The report highlights that Iran has the world’s highest number of executions per capita. According to the United Nations, between 1 January and 1 December 2021 at least 275 people were executed in Iran, including at least two child offenders and 10 women. Parliament’s resolution also states that 85 juvenile offenders were on death row in the country in January 2022.

The text was adopted by 617 votes in favour, 8 against and 59 abstentions. It will be available in full here. (17.02.2022)

The political crisis in Burkina Faso

Parliament condemns the coup perpetrated on 24 January this year by the armed forces against the democratically elected Government of Burkina Faso. It stresses that an urgent return to constitutional order is imperative, including an immediate return to civilian government.

In addition, MEPs call for the immediate and unconditional release of President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, detained during the coup, and all other government officials. The announcement that a technical committee with non-military actors will be established to outline the next steps of the transition process is welcome, say MEPs. They take note that Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, currently the de-facto head of state, has publicly declared a return to normal constitutional life as soon as possible and that Burkina Faso will continue to respect international commitments.

The resolution also expresses firm support for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union in their efforts to mediate this crisis. It calls on the international community to continue to maintain their dialogue with the Burkinabe authorities to ensure a timely and democratic transition to a civilian-led government.

MEPs finally underline that there must be a true and honest national dialogue, involving all sectors of civil society, to outline a clear future vision for Burkinabe democracy.

The resolution was adopted by 627 votes in favour, 10 against and 47 abstentions. For further details, the full version will be available here. (17.02.2022)

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