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C 110 E/140 Official Journal of the European Union EN 8.5.

2003

Answer given by Mr Fischler on behalf of the Commission

(22 November 2002)

The Commission is aware of the matter to which the Honourable Members refer. On 31 July 2002 the
SAFOR Association wrote to the Commission Member responsible for the Directorate-General for
Agriculture.

On 19 September the Director-General for Agriculture replied to the Association voicing the Commission’s
concern over the lack of information and transparency and the possibility of irregularity raised by the
Association’s representative.

The national authorities have sole responsibility for selection of local action groups. The selection criteria
set out in the Integrated Operational Programme for Comunidad Valenciana approved by a Commission
Decision (1), which were specifically examined by the Commission on the occasion of the negotiations,
must be respected.

The Directorate-General for Agriculture has sought clarification on the points at issue from the Agriculture
Ministry. If any infringement of the Community rules or fraud is found to have occurred the Commission
will notify the relevant authorities.

(1) C(2001) 249, 7.3.2001.

(2003/C 110 E/159) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2976/02


by Olivier Dupuis (NI) to the Commission

(22 October 2002)

Subject: Inhumane prison conditions of Mr Latsamy Khamphoui and Mr Feng Sackchittaphong

Mr Latsamy Khamphoui, a former minister of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, and Mr Feng
Sackchittaphong, a former senior civil servant at the Ministry of Justice, have been imprisoned at Forced
Labour Camp No 7 in the province of Houaphanh, in the north of Laos, since 1990. These two members
of the opposition  and another former minister, Mr Thongsouk Saysangkhi, who died in the same forced
labour camp in February 1998 as a result of torture, privation and the absence of medical care  were
sentenced to 14 years’ imprisonment for ‘a State security offence’ after a sham trial in which no defence
was provided. They had written open letters to the sole party’s leaders denouncing the ‘totalitarian’ nature
of the regime, calling for the establishment of a multi-party system and democratic reforms, and
demanding an end to social injustice and corruption within the party. Mr Latsamy Khamphoui and Mr Feng
Sackchittaphong are both over 60; they are seriously ill, with poor eyesight, and kidney and pulmonary
problems, and are almost unable to walk; they are isolated in an underground cell from which they are
only allowed out once a week. They remain without medical care in this Camp No 7, which is notorious
for its cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of prisoners. Their families are not allowed to send them
medicine and have only been able to visit them briefly, a mere three times, over their 12 years of
imprisonment. On 30 May 2002 Unesco launched a public appeal for the release of Mr Latsamy
Khamphoui on humanitarian grounds.

What practical steps has the Commission taken or will it be taking to induce the Vientiane authorities to
release Mr Latsamy Khamphoui and Mr Feng Sackchittaphong unconditionally? What response has it had
from the Laotian authorities to its representations for releasing the leaders of the demonstration of
26 October 1999, Mr Thongpaseuth Keuakoun, Mr Sengaloun Phengphanh, Mr Bouavanh Chanmanivong,
Mr Khamphouvieng Sisa-At and Mr Keochay? More generally, what steps will the Commission be taking to
induce the Vientiane authorities to undertake serious reforms towards introducing democracy and the rule
of law in Laos?
8.5.2003 EN Official Journal of the European Union C 110 E/141

Answer given by Mr Patten on behalf of the Commission


(14 November 2002)

As already indicated in the reply by the Commission to Written Questions P-3175/01 and P-0019/02 both
by Mr Cappato (1), the Commission has the possibility of raising human rights issues with the Government
of Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR) in bilateral meetings and when participating in Union political
démarches agreed with the Member States.

The question of the arrest and disappearance of the five leaders of the ‘26 October 1999 Movement’ has
been raised through these channels. Unfortunately, it has been impossible so far to receive clear
information from the Government on the five missing Laotians.

As regards the continued detainment of former government officials Mr Latsamy Khampoui and Mr Feng
Sackchittaphong, both prisoners of conscience, the Commission, and Member States, have repeatedly
appealed to the government of Lao PDR to have them released on humanitarian grounds.

As these efforts have not yet yielded a positive result, the Commission will continue to raise these issues
through all available channels.

(1) OJ C 160 E, 4.7.2002.

(2003/C 110 E/160) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2977/02


by Erik Meijer (GUE/NGL) to the Commission
(22 October 2002)

Subject: Distortion of competition as a result of the low costs of employing Polish construction workers
not covered by a collective agreement in the Member States of the European Union

1. Can the Commission confirm that the social dialogue introduced in Poland in connection with the
adoption of the ‘acquis communautaire’ of the European Union involves discussions being held once a year
by the Polish government with national umbrella organisations of employees and employers, that these
informal discussions do not lead to agreements and that they are not followed up by discussions between
employees’ and employers’ organisations operating in individual sectors?

2. Can the Commission also confirm that there are no national or regional collective agreements in the
construction sector in Poland, which includes housing, commercial and industrial buildings, roads, bridges
and dams, but only agreements at the level of individual companies or their local branches?

3. Is the Commission aware that Polish construction workers are being squeezed out in their own
country by Ukrainians who work for lower pay, and that this is encouraging Poles to look for work on
building projects in the existing Member States of the EU, primarily in Germany where, following the
completion of a number of major projects, there is a high level of unemployment in the construction
sector, and in Austria, Finland and Sweden?

4. Is it attractive for employers to recruit Polish construction workers as they can in practice be
employed on lower pay and less favourable conditions of employment than workers who have been
resident for long time in the Member State concerned, insofar as they are not covered by a Polish collective
agreement or by a collective agreement of the country where they are employed  provided that such an
agreement has not been declared generally binding , so that companies not belonging to an employers’
organisation which is a contracting party to a collective agreement have no other obligations than to pay
the minimum wage?

5. Does the Commission expect this problem to have been resolved by the end of the seven-year period
following Poland’s accession to the EU during which labour migration will be restricted, if at that time
there are still no generally binding collective agreements in Poland and other Member States? If so, on
what grounds? If not, what additional measures are needed in order to prevent workers from being
recruited on the basis of low employment costs?

6. Is the Commission preparing measures with a view to including migrant workers in collective
agreements?