Ireland is committed to defending the universality of human rights, including the promotion and protection of space within which civil society can operate, free from harassment or intimidation.
Ireland engages on human rights issues on an on-going basis in our contacts with the Colombian Government and civil society. We have also raised issues of concern within the context of the most recent United Nations Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review of Colombia in 2013, and we continue to work closely with our partners in the EU to monitor and to support the progressive improvement of the human rights situation in Colombia.
With regard to the agrarian protests in Colombia, it is important that Colombians who engage peacefully in the political and social developments of their society can do so without fear of risks to their personal security. It is also important that all parties operate within the rule of law. I understand that Colombia's Minister of the Interior has written recently to regional and local leaders concerning the need to guarantee citizens' rights to freedom of expression and to peaceful assembly.
I am aware of the grievances of agrarian protestors and of the dialogue underway with Government in this regard. The challenging socioeconomic conditions faced by some in Colombia are serious and making progress in addressing these can best be done in a context of peace and trust. Rural development and agrarian reforms are a particular priority and for this reason feature as one of the key aspects of the Colombian peace talks currently underway, as well as a policy area of priority more broadly.
A comprehensive peace agreement would create significant opportunities for resources across society to be directed towards building a stable and equitable Colombia. I commend all those that are working constructively in the peace process and hope that their efforts will bring an end to a long conflict that has caused much suffering.