Thursday, 22 November 2018

Questions (47)

Niall Collins

Question:

47. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the efforts being made to address the ongoing repression of peaceful protesters by the Ortega regime in Nicaragua; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48719/18]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The situation in Nicaragua remains deeply concerning. The reports of violence, arbitrary detention, and persecution of civil society leaders, peaceful protesters and those who have assisted them paint a troubling picture of repression. I once again strongly condemn any use of violence and reiterate my calls on all actors to respect the right to peaceful protest and to freedom of expression. I also call on authorities to ensure full accountability for all acts of violence, while ensuring due process for all prisoners.

I am aware of the reports to which the Deputy refers and the worrying accounts they contain of a pattern of human rights abuses and repression. Compounding this climate of impunity is a lack of official cooperation with the international missions investigating human rights abuses.

The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) was expelled from the country following the publication of its report. The Group of Independent Experts (GIEI) and the Follow-Up Mechanism of Nicaragua (MESENI), set up by the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR), have also both reported difficulties in working with the authorities. I urge the Government of Nicaragua to allow the OHCHR officials to re-enter the country, and to cooperate fully with the GIEI and MESENI, so that they can effectively carry out their important work.

Ireland regularly engages on this issue at EU and international level. The EU and its Member States, including Ireland, calls on the government of Nicaragua to act on the findings and recommendations by the IACHR and OHCHR, to ensure full accountability for perpetrators of human rights abuses and the disarming and disbanding of armed groups.

Ireland also supported the declaration in October by the EU High Representative on behalf of the EU on the situation in Nicaragua.

The statement expressed the EU’s serious concern at the situation, and urged the government of Nicaragua to allow the return of the OHCHR to enable it to continue its mission, as well as calling on the government of Nicaragua to stop the disproportionate use of force against demonstrators, halt arrests based on laws which criminalise peaceful protest, allow free peaceful demonstrators and re-establish the full respect of due process for all detainees.

I echo the EU call on the government of Nicaragua to resume the national dialogue. I believe that inclusive dialogue remains the only way of negotiating a peaceful and democratic resolution to this crisis, and of restoring the trust of the Nicaraguan people in the country’s institutions.

Ireland supports EU action taken to support international and local initiatives to address the human rights situation, promote a culture of peace, and to provide support to victims of the crisis and their families. It is important to monitor the humanitarian consequences of the crisis and its impact on the population. Officials in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, both in Dublin and in our Embassy in Mexico, which has responsibility for diplomatic relations with Nicaragua, have been monitoring the situation closely. The Deputy Foreign Minister of Nicaragua, Valdrack Jaentschke, was met by officials in my Department on 1 October last and was informed of our strong attachment to the European Union position on Nicaragua. He was also advised of the importance we attach to the establishment of a genuine national reconciliation process.

We have been engaging regularly with partner organisations on the ground, and raising the issue at international level where appropriate. Ireland greatly values the work of these partner organisations and will continue to engage with them.