The foreign affairs committee called on Tuesday for bans on exports from the EU of information technology that can be used by repressive regimes to censor information, conduct mass surveillance and track people's movements using phone networks and the internet.
"European companies and their subsidiaries and subcontractors should play a key role in the promotion and dissemination of social standards worldwide", says the committee in a resolution drafted by Leonidas Donskis (ALDE, LT) on human rights and democracy in the world in 2011.
MEPs deplore the fact that certain EU companies have given authoritarian regimes unlimited access to their networks and databases under the excuse of following the local law, as was the case with the EU-based company TeliaSonera in several former Soviet countries.
The resolution welcomes Council decisions to ban the export of certain information technologies to Syria and Iran and urges the European Union to consider this as a precedent for restrictive measures against other repressive regimes in future.
Libya and Syria
The committee commends the efforts of the EU and those EU Member States which took the lead in preventing further violence against civilians in Libya during 2011 but regrets the lack of a concerted response at EU level. It is disappointed that the efforts of the EU and the international community have not led to improvements in the situation on the ground in Syria.
MEPs remain extremely concerned at the lack of democracy, rule of law, fundamental freedoms and respect for human rights in Belarus, express deep concern at the detention of 2012 Sakharov prize nominee, Ales Bialiatski, since August 2011 and regret the actions of the Polish and Lithuanian officials who allowed Mr Bialiatski to be arrested by forwarding banking information.
Human rights defenders
They support the planned voluntary European initiative to provide temporary shelter for human rights defenders in need of urgent relocation from their countries of origin.
The text welcomes the Commission's decision in 2011 to strengthen export controls on certain drugs capable of being used in capital punishment. It also welcomes the steps taken by certain EU pharmaceutical companies to halt exports to countries where there is a foreseeable risk of such drugs being used for execution and urges more EU pharmaceutical companies to take similar steps.
MEPs welcome the confirmation in 2011 of the global trend towards abolition of the death penalty but regret the significant increase in executions in Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia and the refusal of China to disclose credible information about its use of death penalty and executions.
The report was adopted by 47 votes to 0, with 4 abstentions.