Wednesday, 13 January 2021

Questions (371)

Joe O'Brien

Question:

371. Deputy Joe O'Brien asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if his attention has been drawn to the case of a person (details supplied) who has been detained for acts of peaceful protest against the regime in Belarus; the measures the State is taking to opposing ongoing human rights abuses by Belarus; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44941/20]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

Ireland continues to strongly condemn the totally unacceptable human rights situation in Belarus. Regrettably, the harassment of protesters, civil society actors, and journalists by the Belarusian authorities has not ceased despite international pressure, including sanctions against the regime.

I am aware of the case of the individual in question, who was detained for his political views, and my Department is kept appraised of the situation regarding detainees by the EU delegation in Minsk. We are extremely worried by credible reports of torture and ill-treatment, including of the individual in question. Along with our EU partners, we have called for the immediate and unconditional release of all those unjustly detained, including political prisoners, and we will continue to raise our voice in this regard.

Ireland has been clear that the repression of the Belarusian people must stop and we continue to urge the authorities to act on the recommendations of UN and OSCE Rapporteurs. Ireland has joined statements at the UN, including at the Human Rights Council, that specifically call for media freedoms to be respected. We also joined a statement of the co-chairs of the United Nations Group of Friends for the Protection of Journalists, which expressed profound concern over the deteriorating situation of human rights in Belarus, including multiple reports of harassment, arbitrary arrests, intensifying persecution and detention of journalists and media workers, as well as the human rights defenders and other members of the Belarusian civil society.

We strongly support EU efforts to direct funding to Belarusian civil society and we have provided funding for a project in Belarus that seeks to protect media freedoms through the European Endowment for Democracy. Ireland remains engaged with our EU and international partners in seeking a peaceful and democratic resolution of the current crisis and we will continue to use our voice in international settings to call for the repression to end.