Thursday, 26 November 2015

Questions (186, 187, 189)

Seán Crowe

Question:

186. Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he is aware that from 9 November 2015 to 13 November 2015, in the space of less than one week, three prominent Colombian human rights defenders (details supplied) were killed; if he is aware that it has been claimed they were killed by right-wing paramilitaries with the complicity of the Colombian authorities and army; and if he will raise the case with the Colombian authorities. [42093/15]

View answer

Seán Crowe

Question:

187. Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he is aware of the killing of one peasant farmer and the injuring of many more after heavy military operations in Argelia in Cauca in Colombia; if he is concerned that such a military operation was carried out against one of the most marginalised communities in one of the poorest regions of Colombia, who were all unarmed; and if he will raise the case with the Colombian authorities. [42094/15]

View answer

Clare Daly

Question:

189. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on recent reports of violence and murder during coca eradication in Argelia in the south-western department of Cauca in Colombia; his plans to hold talks with the Colombian Government with regard to alternative approaches, such as crop substitution programmes, to aggressive coca eradication efforts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42233/15]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 186, 187 and 189 together.

I am concerned by the killing of three human rights defenders in separate incidents in Colombia in recent weeks. I am also aware of reports of recent violence relating to coca eradication in Argelia in the Department of Cauca, Colombia. The incidents are reminders that Colombia still faces significant challenges in overcoming decades of violence in order to secure a lasting peace.

I echo the call of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Colombia which urges the different state agencies responsible for the protection of human rights defenders to implement effective policies and measures to prevent and mitigate the risk to human rights defenders. I also support the call of the OHCHR on the Prosecutor General's Office to advance the investigation into those responsible for the killings of three human rights defenders.

Ireland regularly discusses human rights issues with Colombia as part of our bilateral dialogue. On June 18 2015, I raised the issue of human rights in Colombia during my meeting in Dublin with Dr. Patti Londoño, Colombian Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs. The promotion and protection of human rights and human rights defenders is a core principle of Ireland’s foreign policy.

Officers from our Embassy in Mexico discuss human rights with government interlocutors during their visits to Colombia and meet with international and local civil society organisations working on human rights issues. In addition, my Department provides funding to the OHCHR in Colombia which is specifically targeted to the work of promoting human rights in Colombia.

Human rights are also a priority for the EU and its member states, and are addressed in detail in the context of the EU-Colombia Human Rights Dialogue. Through this mechanism, the Union engages with the relevant Colombian authorities in a structured manner across the full range of human rights issues, including as regards human rights defenders and trade unionists, land restitution, economic and environmental issues. I believe that this policy of engagement, dialogue and scrutiny, which is ongoing, regular and structured, is the best way to promote human rights in Colombia.