Wednesday, 9 February 2005

Questions (167)

Finian McGrath

Question:

208 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will bring the plight of the people of Darfur, Sudan to the attention of the UN Security Council without delay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4313/05]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Foreign)

The political and humanitarian situation in the Darfur region remains a matter of the deepest concern for Ireland. The Government continues to use all avenues open to it to urge action in addressing the humanitarian, security and political challenges, which exist there.

The United Nations and the Security Council has been centrally involved in efforts to address the Darfur crisis. I expressed support for the UN's role and our willingness to assist its efforts in any way we can when I met the UN Secretary General in New York yesterday. I also indicated to the Secretary General my agreement with the recommendation of the international committee of inquiry investigating allegations of genocide in Darfur that those responsible for crimes against humanity or other serious human rights violations should be held accountable before the International Criminal Court.

The comprehensive political agreement signed in Nairobi last month has highlighted the need for parallel political progress with regard to the Darfur conflict. The UN Secretary General's Special Representative, Mr. Jan Pronk, has provided further and deeply worrying evidence in a recent report of how both the Sudan Government and the rebels are continuing to violate the ceasefire agreements. Humanitarian delivery continues to be jeopardised by the escalation in security incidents across many parts of Darfur. I am deeply conscious that some 2 million people are now displaced from their homes and this figure is still rising. Violent attacks by both sides in the conflict have heightened the atmosphere of insecurity, and this is having a negative impact on the delivery of humanitarian aid.

Sustained international pressure needs to be maintained on all the parties to honour their commitments and work to improve the security situation in Darfur. The Government of Sudan must be pressed to accept its responsibility for security and the protection of its own citizens by disbanding the Janjaweed militia and bringing all those responsible for serious human rights violations to justice. There must also be an end to any attempts at forced relocation of internally displaced persons. The rebels, for their part, must cease all attacks and ceasefire violations. All sides must co-operate fully and constructively with the international presence in Darfur, including the UN, African Union and all engaged in the humanitarian effort.

Ending impunity and bringing to justice those guilty of serious human rights violation is an imperative in attempting to resolve the conflict in Darfur. I very much welcome the report of the UN's international commission of inquiry investigating ending impunity and bringing to justice those guilty of serious human rights violation is an imperative in attempting to resolve the conflict in Darfur. I very much welcome the report of the UN's international commission of inquiry investigating whether serious violations of human rights, international humanitarian law and genocide have occurred in Darfur which was published last week. The commission found that crimes against humanity of an ethnic nature have been committed in Darfur and has recommended that the allegations be referred to the International Criminal Court. I agree with the commission that the ICC, of which Ireland has been a strong supporter, would be the most appropriate body to try those accused of these dreadful crimes.

I note that the Commission has concluded that, serious and systematic as the abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law may have been, they could not be classified as genocide, based on the definition of genocide under international law. The Security Council will commence its consideration of these findings this week. I would strongly urge that it takes a speedy and positive decision on the commission's recommendation. In addition to deciding on the referral of the matter to the ICC, the option of sanctions is also available and is one which should be considered.

The UN Security Council has been endeavouring to work through the African Union on improving security on the ground in Darfur. The AU-led monitoring mission, AMIS, is continuing to play a vital role in this regard. Ireland and the EU continue to co-operate closely with the African Union in support of the AMIS II mission and are providing substantial financial and logistical support for the deployment of the expanded AMIS II mission. The African Union and UN are also working together to ensure a successful outcome to the AU-mediated peace talks for Darfur which are due to resume in Abuja at the beginning of March. I would urge the Sudanese Government and the rebel groups to recommit themselves fully to this process, with a view to reaching an early and final political agreement.