We are proud to bring about real change through concrete steps to bring justice to victims of human rights violations in collaboration with other organizations around the world. After decades of armed conflicts and wars, the Middle East and North Africa have become a hub for human rights violations, with most perpetrators enjoying impunity. People have lost faith in the ability of human rights defenders to help them. Nonetheless, change is happening at the hands of hundreds of thousands of these courageous human rights defenders. In the words of Professor Richard Falk, chair of the Euro-Med Monitor Board of Trustees: “It is important to continue the struggle despite frustrations and disappointment based on an ultimate faith in the triumph of justice”. Here are some of our accomplishments:
On September 27, after a week of talks mediated by the United Nations (UN) in Switzerland, the Yemeni Government and the Houthi group, the main two conflicting parties, have reached an agreement to exchange more than 1,000 prisoners. Adhering to the agreement, the Yemeni government, supported by Saudi Arabia, will release 680 prisoners of the Houthi group. In return, the Houthi group will release 400 prisoners, 15 of whom are Saudis. An International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) will supervise the swap deal in the upcoming period. International organizations, including Euro-Med Monitor intensified lobbying and advocacy campaigns during the past months that targeted Yemeni decision-makers, UN officials, and other international organizations, calling on them to work on releasing prisoners and forcibly disappeared individuals. During the years of conflict, Euro-Med Monitor documented dozens of enforced disappearance and detention cases by the Yemeni government and the Houthi group and submitted complaints related to enforced disappearance cases to the UN’s Special Procedures.
Saudi Arabia/United Arab Emirates
On September 17, the European Parliament (EP) adopted a resolution calling on the EU member states not to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia and UAE. This resolution came because of the war in Yemen and the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The resolution, which dubbed Saudi Arabia and UAE as repressive states, called for an absolute ban on supplying the two states with technology and surveillance equipment.
In April 2019, Euro-Med Monitor sent urgent letters to the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), the Joint Committee on Human Rights in the British Parliament, and to the Chairman of the fifth session of the special conference on contracting parties to the Arms Trade Treaty, Janis Karklins, regarding several reports indicating that European countries had sold weapons used in armed conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa.
Euro-Med Monitor called upon European countries to stop selling weapons to countries that do not respect international law and the right to life and protecting civilians during armed conflicts. The letters called for following the footsteps of other European countries that stopped exporting weapons to Saudi Arabia and to abide by the European Parliament Resolution 2157/2018 (INI) that calls for imposing an arms ban on the Arab Coalition led by Saudi Arabia.
On September 18, the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, Steve Block, stated that the Netherlands prepared a lawsuit against Syria before the International Court of Justice (ICJ). This aimed to hold the government of Bashar al-Assad accountable for its violations against human rights.
The Netherlands tool this decision as Russia blocked several proposals at the UN Security Council to address violations in Syria at ICJ.
During a long-running lobbying and advocacy campaign, Euro-Med Monitor, in cooperation with partner organizations, addressed relevant UN agencies to exert pressure on the Syrian government to put an end to military operations that put Syrian lives at risk.
In cooperation with partner organizations, Euro-Med Monitor documented and exposed at UNHRC flagrant violations committed by the Syrian security forces. These violations includes the bombing of cities, towns, and areas controlled by armed opposition factions in northwestern Syria, killing civilians, and the enforced disappearance of hundreds of thousands of them.
After Italy and Malta deliberately withheld 27 migrants onboard of the MaerskEtienne cargo-ship at sea, including a child and a pregnant woman, the Italian authorities took a decision to allow the ship to disembark on September 14.
On August 27, Euro-Med Monitor addressed the authorities in Malta to allow for immediate disembarkation of asylum seekers from the cargo-ship and to take the necessary legal and humanitarian measures to ensure favorable reception of them.
In its letters, Euro-Med Monitor stated that detaining the rescue ships is a dangerous precedent as it obstructs the rescue operations at sea. Detaining a ship for 39 days, which is the longest detention period in the European Union's naval history, may lead other ships to choose not to rescue migrants at risk of drowning over fears of being detained or delayed and consequently not being able to meet the cargo delivery deadline.
On September 30, Germany received 88 minors and their families after announcing its intention to receive 150 migrants from Moria camp in Greece. This came following the eruption of fire that resulted in the displacement of the residents of the camp. Likewise, the Belgian authorities announced a plan to accommodate about 100-150 additional migrants from the same camp. This came to ease the refugee burden on Greece and to support vulnerable groups among them.
In cooperation with other human rights organizations, Euro-Med Monitor, following the eruption of the fire, addressed EU member states to highlight the difficult conditions at the camps, especially in Greece, to improve conditions of asylum seekers, especially those who live in overcrowded camps. This will help absorb more asylum seekers and distribute the refugee burden among EU member states.