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  1. The sitting began at 8am with a statement from the European Commission on the sustainable fishing of sea bass and a statement on the 28th meeting of the UN's Human Rights Council.
  2. There were then human rights debates on the abduction Christians by Islamic State in Syria, the kidnapping of boys in South Sudan and reported threat of evictions of Maasai in Tanzania (Key Video).
  3. Resolutions on all three subjects were put to the vote at 11am, along with resolutions on the killing of Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, and co-operation with the Arab League.
  4. The voting session also saw resolutions relating to EU counter-terror co-operation with Arab League states, and the treatment of the political opposition in Venezuela.
  5. Text can be slow to load on these pages. Please hit refresh (F5) if live text does not appear below.

Live Reporting

By Paul Seddon

All times stated are UK


And with that, the explanations of vote end and the March plenary is closed by German MEP and Parliament Vice-President Alexander Lambsdorff.

MEPs will next gather in Strasbourg for the April plenary between 27 to 30 April, with a "mini-plenary" in Brussels scheduled for 25 March.


With the votes now finished, MEPs will have the chance to make short speeches to explain how they voted.

Venezuela vote

Today's final vote is on a resolution relating to political protests against the government in Venezuela.

A joint text, agreed between the Parliament's four biggest political groups, condemns the use of violence against protesters, and calls for the release of a number of prisoners.

The left-wing GUE group has

tabled amendments withdrawing the call for the prisoners to be released, and condemning "the latest coup attempt and related violence by right-wing and extreme-right opposition groups in Venezuela".

These amendments are defeated, and the resolution is passed by 384 to 75, with 45 abstentions.


Arab League and sea bass resolutions passed

MEPs also pass resolutions calling for stronger co-operation with Arab League nations in forming counter-terrorism policy, and for more scientific evaluation of sea bass stocks to formulate policies to ensure it is fished sustainably.

Human rights annual report resolution

MEPs also pass a lengthy

resolution on the international human rights situation, which, amongst its many clauses, repeats a call for binding human rights clauses to be included in all EU international agreements.

Foreign policy resolution

MEPs are now voting on a

resolution on the EU's foreign policy, calling for it to be more ambitious and proactive.

It urges the need to support countries that want to draw closer to the EU, and for countries in the bloc to reduce their energy dependence on Russia.

They also are asking for increased sharing of intelligence information between EU member states, and for greater co-operation with Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries to fight the threat of terrorism.

The resolution is passed by 436 to 145, with 64 abstentions - with much rejection from the Eurosceptic right and the left-wing parties, as shown in the voting graphic.


Russian shooting condemned

The next resolution to be put to the vote is on the recent shooting of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov.


joint text, agreed between five of Parliament's seven political groups, condemns his killing as one of a string of "unresolved politically motivated murders" in Russia.

It also calls for an international investigation into the murder, and recommends that this is supported by instruments available within the framework of the OSCE, the Council of Europe and the United Nations.

The joint resolution is passed.

Tanzania resolution

The third resolution, condemning the actions of the Tanzanian government in requesting the eviction of members of the Maasai tribe living near the near the Serengeti National Park is also approved on a show of hands.

Resolutions passed

The resolution on Syria is passed.

The second text for resolution from this morning's human rights debates, deploring the use of child soldiers in civil war in South Sudan, is also approved by 626 votes to 4, with 11 abstentions.

Voting session

That's the final human right debate finished - MEPs are now taking their seats for today's voting session.

First up is the resolution condemning the recent abduction of Assyrian Christians by Islamic State (IS) in Syria.

Land rights


Land Policy Guidelines, which govern the action of the Commission in its external action with developing countries, state that land rights in such countries must strike a balance between individual rights and duties, taking into account traditional and informal land access schemes.

Maasai role

Catherine Bearder, the only Lib Dem MEP left in the Parliament after last May's elections, says the Maasai play an "essential role" in environmental protection in the area, as their knowledge of the land makes them "best placed" to contribute towards future protection of the land.

Tanzania debate

That's the debate on child abductions in South Sudan finished.

We now move to the last of this morning's three human rights debates, on accusations of "land grabbing" by the government in Tanzania.

According to local media, the Tanzanian government last month issued an order to the Maasai community living in a chunk of land near the Serengeti National Park to leave the area within 14 days.

Area around the park has been leased to an UAE-based hunting company since 1992 for the recreational hunting of big game, such as lions and leopards.

In 2013, the government said it would be handing over around 1,500 sq km of land near the park to the company, to

create an exclusive wildlife hunting zone.

Today's resolution condemns this move, which it notes will result in the eviction of around 40,000 Maasai, who depend on grazing cattle there for their livelihoods.

Maasai in Tanzania

Use of child soldiers 'should no longer be tolerated'

Portuguese Socialist Ana Gomes tells MEPs that the recruitment of child soldiers should have been stopped years ago under previous peace deals, and calls for a hardline approach to tackle the problem, which she adds "should not be tolerated any longer".

She recommends that the international community takes action to end the "climate of impunity" that she says has surrounded child soldier recruitment, and calls for the EU to impose a weapons embargo and for an inquiry to find out whether profits from oil sales have been used to support war in the country.

Background on South Sudan

South Sudan was plunged into crisis in late 2013, just over two years after gaining independence from Sudan in mid-2011.

Fighting between government troops and rebel factions erupted after the country's president, Salva Kiir Mayardit, sacked his deputy Riek Machar, a member of the Nuer - South Sudan's second largest ethnic group.

Despite a ceasefire agreement signed in January last year - reaffirmed in May - violence has continued in the country, with about 1.5. million having been displaced by the fighting.

MEPs passed a

resolution condemning the resumption of violence last November, and called for increased targeted sanctions on the country's government.

The UN believes 12,000 children were used as child soldiers across South Sudan last year.

South Sudan debate

That's the debate on the abduction of Christians in Syria finished - MEPs will be voting on their resolution in just over an hour.

Next up, MEPs will be debating recent child abductions in South Sudan.

Towards the end of last month, the United Nations children's agency

reported that hundreds of boys in the country had been kidnapped and forced to become child soldiers in the country's civil war.

Forces loyal to President Salva Kiir are pitted against rebels led by former Vice-President Riek Machar - with campaign group Human Rights Watch accusing both sides of using children in the conflict.

Child soldiers

Support for Kurdish fighters

Conservative David Campbell Bannerman, who leads the European Parliament's Iraq delegation, lends his support to Kurdish and Iraqi government troops in the country who are fighting against IS.

David Campbell Bannerman

Assyrian Christians in Syria

The Assyrians, one of the world's oldest Christian communities, have been under increasing pressure in Syria since IS captured large parts of the country.

Some 1,000 local Assyrian families are believed to have fled their homes in the wake of the abductions.

The Assyrians are a minority of Syria's Christians, who made up 10% of the country's population before the civil war.

Numbering up to 40,000, they speak Syriac, a form of Aramaic, the language of Christ.

Assyrian Christian

Support for military action

Spanish liberal Javier Nart says the severity of the activities of Da'esh - another term used to refer to Islamic State (IS) - show the need to move from "philosophy" to action.

To this end, he lauds the clauses in his group's

submission for a resolution which supports existing military action to deal with the "barbarism" of IS, which he says is a ""necessary reaction".

Javier Nart

Debate on abduction of Christians

That's the debate on the UNHRC finished - MEPs will now move on to the first of this morning's three debates on topical human rights cases, which is on last month's

abduction of an estimated 220 Assyrian Christians in Syria by Islamic State (IS).

Activists in the country said earlier this month that 19 of the group had now been freed - with the Assyrian Human Rights Network reporting that the captives gained their freedom after a Sharia court ordered them to pay an unspecified amount of money levied as a tax on non-Muslims.

It has also been reported that Assyrian leaders and Sunni tribal sheikhs are trying to negotiate with IS to secure the release of the rest of the captives, for whom there remains considerable concern among the Assyrian population.


FGM in the UK

Ukip MEP Mike Hookem hails the establishment of the UNHRC in 2006, whilst noting that "we have a long way to go" in the protection of human rights around the world.

Turning his attention closer to home, he says he deplores the lack of UK enforcement of laws banning female genital mutilation - often abbreviated to FGM - accusing the authorities of being "too afraid to stand up for the rights of women and young girls" for fear of "breaching cultural sensitivities".

Call to overcome 'cultural relativism'

Spanish Socialist Elena Valenciano says she welcomes the fact that this morning's resolution has garnered broad support at committee stage, adding that she hopes the EU can make further steps to "speak with one voice" at the UN.

She tells MEPs that the Parliament should not in any way apply "cultural relativism" to the task of defending human rights, which she says must be the "cornerstone" of all EU external policy.

Elena Valenciano

What is the UNHRC?

The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body made up of 47 UN member states elected by the UN General Assembly.

It is responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights internationally, and for making recommendations on human rights abuse cases.

The HRC, which held its first meeting in June 2006, replaced the former United Nations Commission on Human Rights.

Getty Images

UN rights council statement

That's the debate on sea bass finished, and we move on to the next item on this morning's agenda: a statement from the Commission - today again represented by Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn - on the 28th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), which opened in Geneva on Monday last week.

Call for data

French MEP Alain Cadec, who has tabled a

resolution on sea bass on behalf of the Parliament's fisheries committee, calls on the Commission to use the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund EMFF to collect more scientific information before developing further policies to protect sea bass stocks, citing the need for "precise data" to draw up effective new measures.

Alain Cadec

Sea bass ban

At the end of January, the commission

announced a series of measures to avert the collapse of the declining sea bass stock, including a ban on trawling sea bass during the spawning season in the Celtic Sea, the Channel, the Irish Sea and the southern North Sea.

The ban will run until the end of April.


First up, however, MEPs are going to be hearing a statement from the Enlargement Commissioner, Johannes Hahn, on the sustainable fishing of sea bass.

He says he is standing in for Maltese commissioner Karmena Vella - who is responsible for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.

Session begins

Dimitrios Papadimoulis
Greek MEP and Parliament Vice-President is in the chair and this morning's debates get underway

Good Morning

Hello and welcome to BBC Democracy Live's coverage of this final day of the March plenary session in Strasbourg.

As befits European Parliament tradition, MEPs are today going to use the last day of the session to debate a series of three topical human rights cases, which will be followed up by resolutions at the voting session.

MEPs will also be voting on resolutions on the political situation in Venezuela and the killing of Russian opposition figure Boris Nemtsov.

There will also be votes on resolutions on the current meeting of the UN's Human Rights Council, the future of EU foreign policy and relations with the Arab League nations.