Human Rights Debate

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MEPs held their monthly human rights debate on 7 February 2013 which focused on Laos, Zimbabwe and Pakistan.

The debate began with MEPs raising the case of missing Laotian campaigner Sombath Somphone, who disappeared in December.

Security camera footage shows Sombath Somphone being taken away by unidentified men after he was stopped by police in the capital Vientiane.

Human rights groups fear that he was abducted by elements associated with the Communist authorities; however the government in Laos says it knows nothing of his whereabouts.

MEPs then turned to the case of the arrest of human rights activists in Zimbabwe.

A number of activists from the ZimRights organisation have been detained on suspicion of forging and manufacturing counterfeit copies of certificates of voter registration, although his supporters say the charges are politically motivated.

The debate concluded with a focus on attacks on medical aid workers in Pakistan, where eight polio workers were killed in December.

Pakistan is one of only three countries in the world - alongside Afghanistan and Nigeria - where polio is endemic.

Militants in parts of Pakistan's tribal regions are reported to have said the vaccination programme cannot go forward until the United States stops drone attacks in the country.

The recent deaths have led the UN to temporarily suspend its immunisation campaign.

Useful links.

Read Democracy Live's guide to how the plenary sessions work here.

The European Parliament's disclaimer on the use of simultaneous interpretations can be found here.

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