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Parliamentary Question: Intimidation of individuals of Syrian descent in the EU


Parliamentary questions

13 October 2011 E-009135/2011   Question for written answer to the Commission Rule 117 Marietje Schaake (ALDE)  Subject: Intimidation of individuals of Syrian descent in the EU On 4 October 2011 Amnesty International published the report ‘The long reach of the Mukhabaraat’ (the ‘Report’)(1). According to the report, the Syrian Government of President al-Assad is also torturing Syrians in order to silence protests against the regime overseas(2). Syrians, many of them citizens/or residents of the European Union, have peacefully expressed their support for the pro-democracy movement in Syria. According to the report, these individuals have been systematically monitored, e.g. when participating in demonstrations, and harassed, e.g. by receiving death threats, by Syrian embassy officials and others believed to be acting on behalf of the Syrian regime. Moreover, their relatives in Syria have been exposed to intimidation and torture. The report brings forward evidence of these practices by documenting the stories of 30 Syrians, some of them residing in France, Germany, Spain, Sweden and the UK. Given that all individuals residing inside the European Union, irrespective of their nationality, enjoy fundamental freedoms, in particular freedom of expression and the right to assembly, and protection of their basic human rights, the European Commission (the ‘EC’) and EU Member States (‘MS’) have a legal responsibility to actively safeguard these rights, and should act. 1. Has the Commission studied the report and verified the stories and statements included in the report? If not, why not? 2. How will the Commission, in conjunction with the MS, ensure that the fundamental freedoms and human rights of individuals of Syrian descent under its/their jurisdiction are not violated? 3. Can the Commission confirm whether action has been taken by the MS following credible allegations of such violations, and without requiring the making of a formal complaint to the police by the individuals concerned? If not, what will the Commission do to urge law enforcement authorities in the MS to take action? 4. Does the Commission agree that individuals responsible for human rights abuses should be prosecuted, or, if diplomatic immunity precludes prosecution, should be declared personae non‑gratae or not acceptable in the receiving MS? If not, why not? 5. Will the Commission make, and also urge MS to make, official complaints to (the) Syrian ambassador(s) in and to the EU, and via the EU and MS representation(s) in Syria to the Syrian Government, if family members of Syrians residing in the EU have been subjected to human rights violations? If not, why not? 6. Does the Commission envisage downgrading EU — Syrian diplomatic relations if Syrian elements in the EU continue to actively violate fundamental rights and freedoms of individuals residing in the EU? (1) (2) Please find the answer here.