Summary: 8 February 2013, Strasbourg - The European Parliament condemned multiple killings of medical aid workers in Pakistan, called on the Lao authorities to disclose details of the disappearance of prominent NGO worker Sombath Somphone and urged Zimbabwe to release detained human rights workers, in three human rights resolutions voted on Thursday.
Killings of medical workers in Pakistan
Parliament strongly condemns multiple deadly attacks on medical aid workers in Pakistan, all made during campaigns to vaccinate children against polio. The attacks, allegedly linked to militant Islamic groups, have led to the suspension of polio vaccination campaigns there.
MEPs convey their condolences to victims' families and call on the Pakistani government to bring those responsible to justice. MEPs voice concern that international aid workers are increasingly seen by extremists as western spies or militants and warn that suspending the vaccination programme in Pakistan is "a serious blow to worldwide efforts to eradicate polio".
Laos: disappearance of Sombath Somphone
Sombath Somphone, a prominent NGO worker in Laos, has been missing since 15 December 2012. MEPs echo the fear expressed by international human rights organizations that his kidnapping might be linked to his work in field of sustainable and fair development. MEPs call on the Lao authorities to investigate his disappearance and ensure his immediate and safe return to his family.
Detention of human rights activists in Zimbabwe
MEPs condemn the arrests of Human Rights Association workers Okay Machisa, Dorcas Shereni and Leo Chamahwinya in their Zimbabwe offices in December 2012, shortly after they denounced the growing police brutality across Zimbabwe and called for action by the competent authorities. MEPs call on the Zimbabwean authorities to release anyone detained for defending human rights and to end their judicial harassment.
MEPs also deplore the lack of a human rights clause in the EU's recently-concluded interim Economic Partnership agreement with four African States, including Zimbabwe, and ask the EU to include such clauses in future economic partnership negotiations with the country.