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Summary

  1. MEPs debate new measures for collecting and managing data on fisheries stocks
  2. Three topical human rights motions passed during voting session
  3. MEPs also approve new EU rules for monitoring imports of "conflict minerals"

Live Reporting

By Paul Seddon

All times stated are UK

Sitting ends

And with that, this week's plenary sitting comes to an end. 

MEPs will next hold a plenary sitting in Strasbourg on April 3-6. 

Short speeches begin

That's today's voting session finished. MEPs will now have the chance to make short speeches to explain how they voted. 

Normally this opportunity is taken up by those who were unable to speak during the main debate. 

When the sitting resumes at 14.00 GMT, there will be a short debate on written questions recently put to the European Commission. 

MEPs approve report on e-democracy

Voting session

Finally, MEPs approve a report from the constitutional affairs committee which calls on the EU to use the internet and new technologies to boost democratic participation.

It says that electronic voting can make it easier to vote for those who live in remote areas and suffer from reduced mobility.

However it says that high-speed internet connections and secure electronic “identity infrastructure” should be prerequisites for considering the measures.  

MEPs approve EU monitoring rules for 'conflict minerals'

Voting session

Mobile phones
AFP
Tantalum is used in manufacturing mobile phones

MEPs approve legislation to require all but the smallest EU companies to sign up to international monitoring standards for imported “conflict minerals”.

The new rules would require due diligence checks to be undertaken by importers of raw tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold. 

The aim of the law is to prevent money from the sale of the minerals falling into the hands of armed groups.

Under a compromise reached last November, smaller importers such as dentists and jewellers will be exempted from the new requirements.

Agreement on the measures came after a prolonged tug-of-war between MEPs and the European Commission over who should be covered by the rules. 

Human rights motions approved

Voting session

MEPs pass the three human rights motions they debated this morning which:

  • call for charges to be dropped against Zimbabwean pastor Evan Mawarire
  • condemn “political” persecutions in Crimea
  • call for the immediate release of Philippine Senator Leila de Lima 

Votes soon

That’s the debate on this morning’s human rights motions finished. MEPs will shortly take their seats for today’s voting session, which kicks off at around 11.00 GMT. 

MEPs debate arrest of senator in Philippines

Debate on human rights motions

Ms de Lima
Reuters
Ms de Lima was a justice minister between 2010 and 2016

The third and final motion this morning calls for the immediate release of a leading critic of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

Senator Leila de Lima was arrested last month on drug trafficking charges.

She has insisted on her innocence and says the charges are an attempt to silence her criticism of Mr Duterte's war against drugs.

The motion calls the charges against her “politically motivated” and calls for them to be dropped. 

Commissioner: Russia 'targeting' Tartars

Debate on human rights motions

European Parliament

Strasbourg

UK Commissioner Sir Julian King, whose brief includes responsibility over security, tells MEPs that the Commission views the "deteriorating human rights situation" in Crimea with "great concern". 

He says that Russia is "abusing" anti-extremism legislation to target political opponents and has been "especially targeting" the Crimean Tartar population. 

He repeats that the EU will continue to "implement fully" a non-recognition policy over the Crimean annexation, and calls for "thorough investigations" into alleged human rights abuses. 

Sir Julian King
EP

MEPs express concern at rights situation in Crimea

Debate on human rights motions

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Urmas Paet
EP

Estonian Liberal Urmas Paet says that, given the "reality" that Russia is in control of Crimea, it should have a duty to protect people living on the peninsular. 

However, he says the human rights situation in Crimea has "deteriorated significantly" since the annexation, which political prosecutions backed up by those defending them - such as lawyers. 

Finnish Green Heidi Hautala says the Parliament should give its "full support and sympathy" to the Crimean Tartars.

However, she says the situation "will not change" whilst Russia remains an "occupying power" in the region - and says the EU should continue its non-recognition of the annexation. 

MEPs debate motion on Ukraine

MEPs now move to their second motion, which condemns the prosecution of a number of Ukrainians for “political reasons” by Russian police.

The motion this month is meant to mark the third anniversary of Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March 2014.

The motion adds that “violation of freedom of speech, media abuse and forced imposition of Russian citizenship” have become systematic since the annexation.

It also condemns “discriminatory policies” against Crimea’s ethnic Tatar minority, whose self-styled parliament, the Majlis, has been banned. 

Ukrainian servicemen in Donetsk
EPA
Fighting continues in Donetsk in eastern Ukraine

EU 'divided and ineffective' against Mugabe

Debate on human rights motions

European Parliament

Strasbourg

Geoffrey Van Orden
EP

Conservative MEP Geoffrey Van Orden says he has been campaigning for greater action against the "kleptocratic" Mugabe regime, which he says has "brutally oppressed" the Zimbabwean people. 

Whilst he says the African Union has "turned a blind eye" to the oppression in the country, he also adds that the EU has been "divided and ineffective" against Mugabe. 

MEPs debate case of arrested Zimbabwean pastor

The first motion today calls for charges to be dropped against Zimbabwean pastor Evan Mawarire.

Mr Mawarire was charged last year with inciting public violence after criticising the government but a court ruled police had violated his rights and released him.

His Facebook video of himself wrapped in a Zimbabwean flag complaining about the state of the nation sparked a #ThisFlag protest movement against the leadership of the country.

However, he was recently detained after flying back to the country.

The MEPs’ motion says the charges brought against him are “politically motivated” and “must be completely withdrawn”. 

Evan Mawarire
Reuters

MEPs move to human rights motions

That’s the debate on the new framework for collecting fisheries data finished – MEPs will vote on the rule changes at lunchtime.

However before that, they will hold short debates on this month’s three topical motions on human rights cases. 

Commissioner signals importance of data

Debate on EU fisheries data

UK Commissioner Sir Julian King, whose brief includes responsibility over security, says you can't have good management of fisheries without robust data. 

"If you don't measure it, you can't manage it", he adds.

Sir Julian King
EP

Good morning

Hello and welcome to coverage of this plenary sitting of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

First this morning MEPs are going to be debating new measures for collecting and managing data on fisheries stocks.

The changes are meant to simplify the system as part of a wider overhaul of the EU’s common fisheries policy introduced in 2013. 

Trawler in Lerwick
AFP