MEP addresses problems of Syria and east Timor in Euro debates

16 June 2006
Scottish National Party MEP and Europe spokesman Alyn Smith yesterday spoke out in two European debates on human rights and democracy across the world.

Mr Smith addressed the current unrest in Timor Leste and reported abuses of human rights in Syria calling for the EU and UN to take action in both areas. He also questioned the current standing of the EU on human rights.

On Syria Mr Smith focused on reports that several high profile campaigners for democratic reforms including Anwar Al Buni who was about to begin work as the head of an EU funded Human Rights training organisation have been arrested in recent months and may be facing life in prison.

Mr Smith expressed concern that Europe's current standing in the area was low and that countries were now using the issue of rendition flights across Europe and abuses in Iraq to ask why they should listen to the EU.

Mr Smith said

"We have left ourselves in a position where Syria can accuse us of breaching human rights. We are not seen as being the good guys. Hypocrisy is the most odious charge we can be accused of. We stand accused of it right now, with some justification. We need to do more to put our own house in order, as well as look after Syria's."

Dealing with the problems faced by Timor Leste Mr Smith called on EU nations to support UN efforts in the area and to reverse the scaling back of UN civil support for East Timor.

He also called on the EU to maintain its support for democratic processes in Timor Leste and to increase its efforts to assist in building up the democratic institutions, the judiciary and in strengthening health, education and communication networks across the country.