By / July 8, 2021

Citizens’ enquiries on the case of Leonard Peltier

The President of the European Parliament has recently received a large number of messages asking for the liberation of Leonard Peltier, a Native American activist who was convicted to two consecutive life sentences for the murders of two FBI agents in 1977 and has been imprisoned ever since.

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Citizens often send messages to the President of the European Parliament (or to the institution’s public portal) expressing their views on current issues and/or requesting action from the Parliament. The Citizens’ Enquiries Unit (Ask EP) within the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) looks into these issues and replies to the messages, which may sometimes be identical as part of wider public campaigns.

The President of the European Parliament has recently received a large number of messages asking for the liberation of Leonard Peltier, a Native American activist who was convicted to two consecutive life sentences for the murders of two FBI agents in 1977 and has been imprisoned ever since. Citizens first began to write in June 2021 to ask the European Parliament and its President to intervene in favour of the release of Leonard Peltier.

Please find below the main points of the reply sent to citizens who took the time to write to the President of the European Parliament on this matter (in English and Italian).

Main points made in the reply in English

The President of the European Parliament has no mandate to resolve situations that fall within the remit of national authorities, in particular regarding administrative and judicial proceedings. Furthermore, the European Parliament President is not permitted to give instructions to Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) who, under Article 2 of the Statute for Members of the European Parliament, exercise their mandate freely and independently.

Several Members of the European Parliament have previously raised the case of Leonard Peltier. For example, on 19 May 2015, MEPs addressed a parliamentary question regarding the imprisonment of Leonard Peltier to the former Head of EU diplomacy Federica Mogherini. The EU’s chief diplomat is in charge of shaping and carrying out the EU’s foreign and security policy. In her reply, Ms Mogherini declared that she was aware of the situation concerning Mr Leonard Peltier. However, she stated she was not aware of any link between Mr Peltier’s advocacy activities and his prosecution and sentencing for murder, nor with the refusal of his request for parole.

Main points made in the reply in Italian

Il Presidente del Parlamento europeo non ha alcun mandato per risolvere situazioni che rientrano nelle competenze delle autorità nazionali, in particolare per quanto riguarda i procedimenti amministrativi e giudiziari. Inoltre, non può dare istruzioni di voto ai deputati al Parlamento europeo, che sono liberi e indipendenti nel loro ruolo, come previsto dall’articolo 2 dello statuto dei deputati del Parlamento europeo.

Diversi deputati al Parlamento europeo hanno sollevato in precedenza il caso di Leonard Peltier. Ad esempio, il 19 maggio 2015 i deputati hanno presentato un’interrogazione parlamentare, relativa alla detenzione di Leonard Peltier, a Federica Mogherini, ex capo della diplomazia UE. Il ruolo del capo della diplomazia UE è quello di definire e attuare la politica estera e di sicurezza dell’Unione. Nella sua risposta, la sig.ra Mogherini ha dichiarato di essere a conoscenza di questa situazione. Tuttavia, la sig.ra Mogherini ha affermato di non essere a conoscenza di alcun nesso tra l’attivismo politico di Peltier e la sua incriminazione e condanna per omicidio, e nemmeno con il rifiuto della sua richiesta di libertà condizionale.


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