Debates on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law, Iran: the Shirin Ebadi case, Guinea, press freedom in Kenya, plenary session of the EP
End production: 15/01/2009 First transmission: 15/01/2009
As usual the plenary session of the European Parliament ended with three debates and votes on human rights issues in the world. On 15 January 2009, the topics were: Iran (the case of Shirin Ebadi), Guinea and the freedom of the press in Kenya.
Shirin Ebadi is an Iranian lawyer, human rights activist and founder of Children's Rights Support Association in Iran. She was awarded the Peace Nobel Prize for her efforts for democracy and human rights, especially women's, children's, and refugees' rights. In December 2008, Iranian police shut down the office of a human rights group led by her.
After the death of Lansana Conté, President of Guinea, Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, head of the National Council for Democracy and Development (CNDD), took the power with a coup on 24 December 2008. Right after, Camara announced that the government and the institutions of the Republic were dissolved, the constitution suspended, as well as political and union activity.
Mwai Kibaki, President of Kenya, signed the Kenya Communications Bill 2008 last 2 January 2009. Also known as the "ICT Bill", the new legislation provides for heavy fines and prison sentences for press offences. It also gives the government, above all the information and interior ministries, authority over the issuing of broadcast licences and the production and content of news programmes. This is a major step backwards in the history of press freedom in Kenya, Reporters Without Borders said.
Only the original language version is authentic and it prevails in the event of its differing from the translated versions.
|| Exterior view of the European Parliament in Strasbourg
|| Catherine Stihler, Member of the EP, (in ENGLISH) saying that it is hard to truly comprehend the bravery, the courage and strength required by human rights activist like Shirin Ebadi to function in Iran and stand up to the dictatorship; the work of human rights lawyers and activists is needed to shine a light on what is happening in Iran to give hope; saying that she hopes that we will see the re-opening of the human rights centre and that the EP will do all it can to help Shirin Ebadi.
|| Jean Lambert, Member of the EP, (in ENGLISH) saying that we need to realise that we are seeing a shift in the recognition of human rights by certain governments throughout the world and that this has an impact on countries with whom the European Union has dealings, who now feel that they don't have to pay so much attention to human rights because they can do trade or work with countries that really don't care; that makes it even more important for the EU to make sure that we are trying to uphold those standards.
|| Vladimír Špidla, Member of the EC in charge of Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, (in CZECH) saying that the Commission will use every opportunity to ask and pressure Iranian authorities to grant Ms Ebadi and other protectors of human rights in Iran to freely act without interference.
|| Ewa Tomaszewska, Member of the EP, (in POLISH) saying that the European Parliament should appeal for a democratic presidential election to be held as soon as possible; saying that she expects the European Commission to support in terms of humanitarian aid the civilian population and to engage in dialogue with the authorities.
||Charles Tannock, Member of the EP, (in ENGLISH) asking why should we in the West go to such length to address this issue when African governments appear so indifferent; saying that the EU should consider invoking the provisions of the Cotonou agreement related to sanctions; Captain Camara and the co-leaders need to understand that the EU expects certain basic standards of governance in return from trade and aid relationship; Guinea's only path to prosperity is through democratic civilian government.
|| Vladimír Špidla (in CZECH) saying that the Commission intends to join the efforts of the African Union and support their efforts in order to speed up the return to a civilian constitution and a democratic government through free and transparent elections.
|| Marios Matsakis, Member of the EP, (in ENGLISH) calling upon the Kenyan authorities to reconsider their position and give their mass-media the legislative freedom they need in order to try at least to function as democratically as possible; on the fact that the Kenyan government should understand that the protection of the press is essential for a country to enhance the living standards of its citizens.
|| Colm Burke, Member of the EP, (in ENGLISH) saying that he calls on the Kenyan government to initiate a stakeholder consultation in order to build consensus and help to better regulate the communications industry without interfering with press freedom and without infringing upon rights contained within the universal declaration.
|| Vladimír Špidla (in CZECH) saying that dialogue is the only way how the media and the Kenyan government can deepen their mutual understanding and build mutual respect; the EC looks forward to the results of various meetings with all the stakeholders which are to be held in Kenya and it hopes that the parties will reach agreement concerning appropriate recommendations for amendments to the 'Media-act'.
|| Cutaways (4 shots)