As I have stated previously, the Government takes seriously concerns about human rights in China, including those of Falun Dafa members. The issue of the treatment in China of followers of Falun Dafa has been raised both bilaterally and through the formal framework of the EU-China human rights dialogue, which was established in 1996. Through the dialogue, the EU shares with China its experience in the field of human rights protection and promotion and urges China to take clear steps to improve the human rights situation generally and, specifically, with respect to the freedoms of expression, religion and belief, which have a particular impact on individual practitioners of Falun Dafa.
The last session of the EU-China human rights dialogue took place in Dublin on 26-27 February 2004. Ireland, as holder of the Presidency of the EU, discussed with China a wide range of human rights issues of concern, including individual cases of alleged human rights abuses. Among the cases raised were those of the individuals of concern to the Deputy. A response was subsequently received from the Chinese authorities. This stated that one of the individuals had been sentenced to re-education through labour for two years, but had been relatively quickly released on bail so he could seek medical attention. We understand that he is now in hospital receiving treatment. As regards the second individual, we were informed that the authorities had no record of the person being admitted to a labour institute.
It should be noted that the specific cases to which the Deputy refers involve Chinese citizens. They are subject to Chinese law while in their own country and as they are not Irish citizens, we have no consular function in this matter. However, because of our concerns about the human rights situation in China, we were prepared to raise the cases.