Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Questions (61)

Michael McNamara

Question:

61. Deputy Michael McNamara asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will raise with his Sudanese counterpart the case of a person (details supplied), who has been sentenced to death by hanging for apostasy in Sudan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22868/14]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The Government, and our European Union partners, are completely opposed to the death penalty in all cases. We also attach the utmost importance to combating all forms of discrimination based on religion or belief. Freedom of religion or belief is one of Ireland's priorities for our membership of the Human Rights Council, from 2013 to 2015, and we have played a central role in the negotiation of two important resolutions on this issue in the past year.

I am appalled by the sentencing of Mrs. Mariam Ishaq. On 15 May, the EU issued a statement expressing dismay at the sentence and emphasising that freedom of religion or belief is a universal human right that must be protected everywhere and for everyone. Sudan has ratified the relevant United Nations and African Union conventions and has an international obligation to defend and promote freedom of religion or belief. Ireland and our EU partners have been calling on all countries to repeal legal provisions that penalise or discriminate against individuals for leaving or changing their religion or belief or for inducing others to change a religion or belief, especially when such cases are punishable by the death penalty. We are committed to working to ensure that citizens of Sudan and elsewhere do not suffer violence or discrimination on the grounds of religion.

I have asked our Embassy in Cairo, which covers Sudan, to monitor the case of Mrs. Ishaq closely, and to ensure that our serious concerns are understood. We will also continue to follow developments in cooperation with our EU partners.