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The Council has decided to extend the mandate of EU civilian mission EUCAP Sahel Mali until 31 January 2023 and has allocated it a budget of over €89 million for the period from 15 January 2021 to 31 January 2023.

10/01/2021 – HR/VP blog – The shocking events in Washington last Wednesday must be a wake-up call for all democracy advocates around the world. We need to fight harder against disinformation and inequalities and renew global cooperation to promote the rule of law and democratic values.

The authorities in Hong Kong arrested over 50 people on 6 January 2021 on charges pursuant to the National Security Law (NSL). The charges in question relate to the holding in July 2020 of pro-democracy primary elections aimed at identifying candidates for the next Legislative Council elections. Those arrested include former opposition lawmakers and civil society activists.

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On 2 January 2021, Kazakhstan announced its ratification of the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, becoming the 88th party. This Protocol aims at making irreversible the abolition of the death penalty, already enshrined in Constitution of Kazakhstan in 2007.

The death penalty is an inhuman and cruel punishment, which fails to deter criminal behaviour.

The EU welcomes this important step by Kazakhstan, which is in line with the world trend to abandon the most inhuman punishment.

Today, the European Commission has granted a conditional marketing authorisation (CMA) for the COVID‑19 vaccine developed by Moderna, the second COVID-19 vaccine authorised in the EU. This authorisation follows a positive scientific recommendation based on a thorough assessment of the safety, effectiveness and quality of the vaccine by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and is endorsed by the Member States.

The Venezuelan elections of 6 December 2020 for the National Assembly regrettably went ahead without a national agreement on electoral conditions. The European Union considers that the elections failed to comply with the international standards for a credible process and to mobilise the Venezuelan people to participate. The lack of political pluralism and the way the elections were planned and executed, including the disqualification of opposition leaders, do not allow the EU to recognise this electoral process as credible, inclusive or transparent, nor do they allow its outcome to be considered as representative of the democratic will of the Venezuelan people. The EU deeply regrets that the National Assembly assumed its mandate on 5 January on the basis of these non-democratic elections.

The sentencing of Mr Pham Chi Dung to 15 years in prison, and 11 years each for Mr Nguyen Tuong Thuy and Mr Le Huu Minh Tuan, is a negative development. All three are members of the Independent Journalists’ Association of Vietnam (IJAVN), a civil society organisation which promotes free speech, press freedom and freedom of association. States must protect freedom of expression and create a favourable environment for public debate even when the opinions expressed are contrary to those held by the authorities.

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The Gulf Cooperation Council members reached an agreement on the full normalisation of relations among themselves at the GCC summit in the Saudi city of AlUla (Al-Ula) on Tuesday. It was preceded on Monday by the decision of Saudi Arabia to reopen its borders with Qatar.

The European Union welcomes these significant developments as they will considerably strengthen regional stability and restore GCC unity and cooperation in full. We commend in this respect the mediation role played by Kuwait all along, as well as by the US.

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