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The lesson from #Qatargate: EU must be 'louder and stronger' on human rights

Faced with allegations of authoritarian influence in Parliament's work, the institution needs to be 'louder and stronger' on human rights globally - not reward those same governments with their silence.

While addressing corruption allegations within the EU Parliament is critical for its legitimacy, this cannot come at the cost of wholesale silencing of the Parliament’s dedicated human rights work, said the Brussels-based Human Rights and Democracy Network in a joint letter released today.
This statement comes backed by dozens of international, regional and national human rights groups that regularly engage with EU institutions to promote human rights and pursue accountability. ISHR has been a member of HRDN since 2018.
‘What #Qatargate has laid bare is the result of unchecked impunity for authoritarian governments,’ said Sarah M Brooks, ISHR liaison in Brussels. ‘There needs to be a transparent investigation of how foreign governments exert undue influence on the Parliament’s work.’
However, notes Brooks, calls from some quarters in Brussels to shutter the Human Rights Sub-Committee (DROI) and end the consideration of country-specific resolutions could set a dangerous tone. DROI hearings addressed pressing human rights issues – such as this one in 2020, focused on rising authoritarianism and shrinking space, where ISHR testified to the role of authoritarian influence in UN spaces. Their exchanges of views and the Parliament’s urgency resolutions were a platform for human rights defenders, and a vehicle for victims of violations to amplify their calls for accountability.
Brooks concludes, ‘We know from our work with the UN that visibility for HRDs is often a key protection strategy. While they clean house, the EU institutions cannot shut the door on defenders.’

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