Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Questions (421)

John Brady


421. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his views on and response to the current state of the crisis in Belarus; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38585/20]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I am very concerned by developments in Belarus, which continue to deteriorate. We have seen mass and indiscriminate detentions, including of children, violence against peaceful protesters, evidence of torture and ill-treatment of detainees, including reports of sexual abuse, internet shutdowns and curbs on media freedoms.

UN Special Rapporteurs have highlighted continued violations of children's rights and the persecution of women human rights defenders in the country. Ireland shares their concerns and we will continue to raise our voice on the appalling human rights situation in international settings.

Despite large-scale peaceful protests, members of the political opposition have been threatened, harassed, detained and forced into exile. We have also seen loss of life, including the recent death of a peaceful protester in police custody which was needless and shameful.

Ireland and the EU have repeatedly condemned the use of violence by the Belarusian authorities against their own people. We sent a firm message through the imposition of targeted sanctions against key figures in Belarus. So far 55 individuals have been sanctioned, including Lukashenko himself, and we stand ready to go further.

However, sanctions are just one element of a broader response. A review of EU-Belarus relations is underway and we will continue to work with our EU partners on redirecting EU funds towards Belarusian civil society and away from the authorities. Ireland has also committed €50,000 for two projects in Belarus through the European Endowment for Democracy that aim to protect human rights and media freedoms.

EU Foreign Ministers remain firmly engaged in trying to bring about a peaceful and democratic resolution to the crisis. We will continue to press the Belarusian authorities to end their campaign of violence against the Belarusian people, to unconditionally release those unjustly detained and to respect their international commitments.

We are unwavering in our support for the Belarusian people in their clear and simple demands that their elections to be free and fair and that their basic human rights be respected.