MEPs hold their annual human rights debate

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The EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Baroness Ashton, has insisted that human rights issues are "a central part of all discussions" that the EU's External Action Service holds with non-EU countries.

Speaking during the European Parliament's annual debate on global human rights on 12 June 2013, she denied that human rights were "merely an add-on at the end of talks or a box-ticking exercise".

The annual debate brings together the various issues discussed in the monthly human rights debate, and there was a particular focus on freedom of the press and freedom of the media.

Baroness Ashton paid particular tribute to the work of the EU's new Special Representative for Human Rights, Stavros Lambrinidis, saying he had "revolutionised" the way in which the EU raised human rights.

The report on protecting journalists calls on the EU to take a tougher stand against countries that imprison or harass journalists who publish reports critical of the country's regime.

It also raises concerns about censorship, and says that companies running search engines need more transparency to prevent restrictions on access to information and freedom of expression.

The annual human rights reports will be voted on during the daily voting session from 11am on 13 June 2013.

Useful links.

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

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

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