Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Questions (42)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

42. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the extent to which each side in the stalled Middle East peace process has recognised and acknowledged the full extent of prisoners held by them; the efforts to date made to ensure basic human rights are observed in respect of such detainees; if the international community has had access to such prisoners; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28718/14]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The issue of prisoners has been and is a difficult element of the Middle East Peace Process, as indeed it was in our own case. The release of a number of longer term Palestinian prisoners held by Israel was an element in the arrangements for the recent talks process, and the non-release by Israel of the final group of prisoners was an element in the breakdown of those talks.

We have discussed many times in the Oireachtas the many causes for concern that international standards for detention of prisoners are not fully met. This is true of prisoners held by Israel, by the Palestinian authority, and indeed much more widely throughout the region. In some cases this reflects the general need in the broader region to improve standards of human rights protections, in some cases it relates to the specific circumstances of the conflict in the area. Ireland and our EU partners work in these cases, as we do elsewhere, to encourage and press the parties to adhere fully to international standards.

Prisoners in Israeli and Palestinian custody are normally able to meet their legal representatives in the usual way. It is my understanding that the International Red Cross is also able to visit prisons and prisoners, and has not alerted us to any difficulty in this regard.