The Government closely follows human rights issues in China, including reports of organ harvesting, and is concerned about the situation. Freedom of expression is an issue which is discussed regularly with the Chinese authorities during both bilateral and multilateral meetings. In March 2012, Ireland and China took a major step forward in strengthening our bilateral ties with agreement on The Strategic Partnership for Mutually Beneficial Cooperation. The Strategic Partnership reaffirms the commitment of Ireland and China to respecting and safeguarding human rights.
As indicated in the joint statement, Ireland and China will conduct exchanges of expertise in governance and rule of law on the basis of equality and mutual respect. Through the formal framework of the EU-China Human Rights Dialogue, which was established in 1995, the EU continues to share with China its experience in the field of human rights protection and promotion, and to urge China to take clear steps to improve the human rights situation. The latest session of this dialogue took place on 25 June 2013 and provided the EU with the opportunity to express its concerns about a wide range of human rights issues in China, including the treatment of ethnic and religious minorities, deprivation of liberty, and criminal and administrative punishment.
At this meeting, the EU also asked about measures taken so far by China to ratify the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights, signed in 1998 in view of China’s undertaking made during the 2009 Universal Periodic Review (UPR) to ratify the Covenant at an early date. In February 2013, officials from my Department met with representatives of the Irish Falun Dafa Association. During this meeting the Irish Falun Dafa Association discussed the issue of organ harvesting and ways in which human rights issues are raised with Chinese authorities by both Ireland and the EU. Officials in my Department are due to meet again with the Falun Dafa Association regarding the issue of organ harvesting later this month.
Ireland, together with our EU partners, will continue to address human rights issues with China, including those related to the Falun Gong, in frequent and regular dialogue, through our contacts in both Dublin and Beijing and through the relevant multilateral channels, including at the United Nations Universal Periodic Review of human rights in China, scheduled for October 2013.