Written Answers. - Foreign Conflicts.

Michael D. Higgins

Ceist:

170 Mr. M. Higgins asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his views on recent reports in a newspaper (details supplied) that US military officials are making preparations for the trials and possible executions of captives held in Guantanamo Bay, which has been contested and criticised by human rights organisations such as Amnesty International. [19177/03]

As the Deputy will know from my reply to Parliamentary Question No. 210 on 24 June last, I am aware of recent media reports suggesting that the issue of the death penalty might arise in relation to detainees at Guantanamo Bay. Ireland's position on the death penalty is well known to the US authorities. Ireland is among those countries which have outlawed the death penalty and, together with our partners in the EU, we remain firmly opposed to the death penalty in all cases, irrespective of the circumstances involved. The Government believes the abolition of the death penalty contributes to the enhancement of human dignity and the progressive development of human rights, and is committed to achieving its universal abolition.

In conjunction with our EU partners, and in accordance with the common EU guidelines on the issue of the death penalty, we have expressed our concern to the Government of the United States at the continued use of the death penalty on a number of occasions by means of general and case-specific demarches and will continue to do so. The Government has also made clear to the US authorities, through bilateral channels, its concern that the detainees in Guantanamo Bay be treated in accordance with the provisions of international human rights and humanitarian law. The US authorities are well aware of Ireland's opposition to the death penalty and we will continue to make our position known on appropriate occasions.