Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Questions (45)

Maureen O'Sullivan


45. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade further to Parliamentary Question No. 132 of 21 May 2019, if officials have visited La Guajira, Colombia to date; if so, if they raised the issue of continued death threats; and if the ambassador was present. [25171/19]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

Ireland is a committed supporter of human rights defenders, open civil society space and the protection and promotion of fundamental rights and freedoms. I am aware of the difficult situation that exists for human rights defenders in Colombia, and I entirely reject the use of threats, intimidation and violence against those exercising and protecting their rights to freedom of expression and assembly.

As our new Embassy in Bogotá becomes fully operational, it is following the situation in La Guajira and continues to engage with human rights organisations and other relevant stakeholders in the region. As I mentioned in my response to Deputy O'Sullivan's previous question on this matter, Embassy officials intend to visit La Guajira in the near future and meet with human rights defenders and civil society groups. Planning for the visit is advancing and the Embassy has engaged with relevant stakeholders to assess the most suitable and constructive time and to ensure the necessary conditions for the visit to take place. We remain in close contact with the EU Delegation in Bogotá on this matter, which also continues to monitor developments in this region closely.

While officials have not yet visited La Guajira, they have been following the situation in the region closely. Officials have met with representatives of the Cerrejón mine and have discussed the human rights issues that have been raised by civil society groups in the area. Officials have also discussed the situation with partner organisations in Colombia that are involved in monitoring human rights in the area.

The situation of human rights in the country is closely tied to the implementation of the peace agreement. Ireland supports the Colombian Government’s full implementation of these accords. We also aim to continue our financial support to the peace process and to deepen our lesson-sharing programmes, based on our experiences of peacebuilding and reconciliation on the island of Ireland.

I can assure the Deputy that officials in my Department in Dublin and at our Embassy in Bogotá will continue to monitor the human rights situation in La Guajira and across Colombia. Ireland is committed to supporting Colombia in its transition to a stable, peaceful, post-conflict society.