Written Answers. - Foreign Conflicts.

Dick Spring


177 Mr. Spring asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if the Irish delegation to the 57th Session of the Human Rights Commission will sponsor a motion calling for the appointment of a special rapporteur on Algeria to conduct an inquiry into the major massacres of the past ten years; and if, as an interim measure, he will propose the granting of an immediate UN mandate to the special rapporteur on torture and extra-judicial executions to allow for investigations into the continuing reported use of widespread torture by the Algerian authorities. [8347/01]

Bernard J. Durkan


182 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the position in relation to human rights violations in Algeria; his proposals to deal with this matter at United Nations or European Union level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8074/01]

Tony Gregory


184 Mr. Gregory asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if, regarding the 57th Session of the Human Rights Commission, the Irish delegation will sponsor a motion on Algeria requesting the appointment of a special rapporteur on Algeria to conduct an inquiry into the major massacres of the past ten years in order to ascertain who carried them out and to bring the perpetrators to justice; and if, while this special rapporteur and support services are being set up, the special rapporteur on torture and extra-judicial executions should receive an immediate UN mandate to investigate the reported continuing widespread use of torture by the Algerian authorities. [8076/01]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 177, 182 and 184 together.

Despite recent positive signals and statements on the part of the Algerian authorities and of a number of opposition forces for the ending of the seven years of civil conflict, there is continued opposition by some groups in Algeria to any settlement or reconciliation between the Government and its Islamist opponents. The security situation has seriously deteriorated in recent months after an improvement following the implementation of the general amnesty announced by President Bouteflika last year.

Progress in the area of human rights is a major objective in Ireland's bilateral relations with Algeria. The Government has expressed its deep concern at the horrendous loss of life and the human suffering caused by the civil conflict. We continue to take every appropriate opportunity in our bilateral contacts, through the process of dialogue between Algeria and the EU, and at the United Nations, to urge the Algerian authorities to take the necessary steps that will lead to an ending of the conflict, and for the establishment of independent mechanisms for the investigation of human rights violations and for bringing those responsible to justice.

In our continuing discussions with our EU partners Ireland has sought to maintain a strong emphasis on effective action by the EU to advance full respect for human rights in Algeria. The EU has called for the establishment of a dialogue between the Government, opposition groups, and civil society, as a means to bring about the peaceful climate and the process of national reconciliation as called for by the people of Algeria in the national referendum held in September 1999.
At the forthcoming United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Geneva, Ireland and our EU partners will again raise the situation in Algeria under agenda item 9, which concerns the question of the violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms. However, as on previous occasions, it appears that there would be insufficient support within the commission for the adoption of a country-specific resolution. In such circumstances, it would be counterproductive were a resolution to be proposed only to be defeated. Such a defeat would only be of benefit to the hardliners and would send an entirely wrong signal as to the progress which the international community wishes to see in Algeria.
The Government of Algeria continues to oppose the appointment of a UN special rapporteur. However, it has indicated that it is willing to co-operate with the UN Human Rights Commission on the question of human rights violations. Both the UN special rapporteur on extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary executions and the special rapporteur on torture have ongoing mandates from the Human Rights Commission to report on situations of concern. Reports by both rapporteurs are due to be considered at the forthcoming meeting of the commission. It is expected that these would,inter alia, comment on developments in Algeria. The question of access for special rapporteurs to report at first hand on human rights situations of concern in a number of countries, not only Algeria, is also likely to be an issue in Geneva.
In our contacts with the Algerian authorities the Government will continue to present its view that a more co-operative approach by Algeria to the utilisation of the human rights protection machinery of the United Nations, including the role of special rapporteurs, would be a constructive step in helping to facilitate a peaceful resolution to the current, tragic situation.