Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Questions (133)

Niall Collins


133. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if his attention has been drawn to reports of the beheading of minors in Saudi Arabia for minor transgressions; if he has raised this issue with the relevant authorities or at the EU Foreign Affairs Council; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29366/19]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I am deeply troubled by reports of adults being executed by Saudi Arabia for alleged crimes committed when they were children. These death sentences directly contravene Saudi Arabia's obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which states, “Neither capital punishment nor life imprisonment without possibility of release shall be imposed for offences committed by persons below eighteen years of age."

Ireland is unequivocal in its stance against the death penalty, and the abolition of capital punishment is one of Ireland’s international priorities. My Department regularly conveys our stance on this matter to all countries where the death penalty is still in use. We have consistently raised this matter at the Human Rights Council in Geneva. Last week we reiterated our opposition to the death penalty in all circumstances in our national Item 4 statement at the Council. Ireland has also consistently raised concerns about the use of the death penalty in Saudi Arabia in our Item 4 statements. In our intervention at the last Universal Periodic Review of Saudi Arabia's human rights record in November 2018 Ireland called on Saudi Arabia to abolish the death penalty.

Senior officials from my Department met with the Saudi Ambassador in June and raised our concerns on this issue directly. I myself met with the Saudi Ambassador in October 2018 and February 2019 and highlighted human rights concerns. Our Embassy in Riyadh consistently avails of appropriate opportunities to raise human rights issues with the Saudi authorities.

I remain deeply concerned by the inhumane use of the death penalty in Saudi Arabia. My officials and I will continue to raise our concerns about human rights issues, including the execution of adults for alleged crimes committed when they were minors and the issuance of death sentences to minors, directly with the Saudi authorities, and at EU and international levels, whenever opportunities arise.