Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Questions (93)

Clare Daly

Question:

93. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the steps taken to secure the release of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19483/19]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The Government is aware of and very concerned about the case of Human Rights Activist, Mr. Azimjan Askarov and has communicated these concerns to the Government of Kyrgyzstan. The promotion and protection of Human Rights is a cornerstone of Ireland’s foreign policy. In particular, we work closely with the EU, the UN, the Council of Europe and the OSCE to promote human rights and to support human rights defenders across the world.

At the United Nations, Ireland has consistently prioritised the issue of Human Rights Defenders (HRDS) by co-sponsoring resolutions related to HRDS and participating in relevant discussions with the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, Mr. Michel Forst. Ireland also supported the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders in 1998.

In late 2014, former Tánaiste, Eamon Gilmore, now the EU Special Rapporteur on Human Rights, travelled to Kyrgyzstan and visited Mr Askarov in prison in Bishkek following which he made an appeal to the President of Kyrgyzstan to release Mr Askarov on humanitarian grounds.

In January 2015 Ireland participated in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Kyrgyzstan in Geneva. The UPR is a mechanism through which the United Nations Human Rights Council examines and addresses the human rights performance of its Member States. In our intervention we expressed our concerns over reports of intimidation, reprisals and threats against human rights defenders, including Mr. Askarov, in Kyrgyzstan.

Moreover, Ireland recommended that Kyrgyzstan protect human rights defenders from intimidation and violence and that it ensure prompt, impartial and thorough investigation of allegations of harassment, torture and ill-treatment of human rights defenders. We expect that Kyrgyzstan will be reviewed again in January 2020 and this will be another opportunity for us to reiterate our Human Rights concerns.

Ireland is very supportive of the EU's structured, regular human rights dialogue with Kyrgyzstan which is held on an annual basis, most recently in June 2018 where the EU highlighted the positive role of Human Rights Defenders and civil society for creating civic spaces both in the EU and Kyrgyzstan. The next Human Rights Dialogue is expected to take place next month.

Ireland attaches considerable importance to the vital work of human rights defenders and condemns all acts or threats of violence against organisations and individuals working to protect human rights. I can assure the Deputy that we will continue to monitor the situation closely in conjunction with our partners in the European Union and the United Nations.