Wednesday, 29 June 2005

Ceisteanna (232, 233)

Pat Carey

Ceist:

235 Mr. Carey asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the progress being made through consular and other officials on a possible appeal, retrial or repatriation of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23303/05]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Foreign)

My Department has been monitoring developments in this case and has been providing consular assistance to the person in question since we became aware of the case in February 2003.

The Irish ambassador and a diplomatic officer from the embassy in Buenos Aires have made prison visits to the person to whom the Deputy refers. In addition, an Irish person in Quito, on behalf of the embassy and who is well known to it, has made a recent prison visit and intends making monthly visits from now on with phone contact on a weekly basis. On her recent visit, this embassy representative found the person concerned to be in good form and delivered food, money and other essential items to her. The person concerned indicated to the embassy representative that she has engaged a lawyer and the embassy representative is happy to make contact with the lawyer on receipt of contact details.

As regards legal advice, the most appropriate person to offer such advice to the person concerned is her legal representative. However, a difficulty regarding further proceedings — a possibility which has been raised by the Deputy in his question — is that I understand, following the recent political disturbances, that most legal proceedings in Ecuador are at a standstill.

Joan Burton

Ceist:

236 Ms Burton asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his proposals in respect of the destruction of many thousands of homes and small businesses currently being carried out by the Government of Zimbabwe; the representations he has made to African countries which are bilateral development partners of Ireland and the actions Ireland has taken at the European Union on this issue. [23304/05]

Amharc ar fhreagra

The Government views with great concern the recent actions by the Zimbabwean Government, which have resulted in an estimated 275,000 people being left homeless, as a result of Operation Restore Order, aimed at clearing away the businesses of informal street traders and unregistered homes built by the urban poor. Ireland and its EU partners have joined many others in the international community in condemning the totally unjustified actions of the Zimbabwean Government which have only succeeded in worsening the humanitarian situation in a country already facing serious food shortages this year and currently experiencing unemployment levels of between 70% and 80%.

The serious humanitarian consequences arising from Operation Restore Order has once again highlighted the failed policies of President Mugabe's Government. It is important that international pressure continues to be exerted on the Zimbabwean authorities to cease this campaign as soon as possible, to assist those who have been left homeless or in want as a result and to begin implementing democratic reforms to move away from the climate of repression and intimidation, which has characterised Zimbabwe in recent years. In this regard, I very much welcome the decision by the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, to appoint Ms Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka, the executive director of UN Habitat, as his special envoy to assess the humanitarian consequences of the forcible eviction policies currently being pursued. Ms Kajumulo Tibaijuka is currently in Zimbabwe and will submit a full report on the situation to the Secretary General following her visit.

The Irish ambassador to South Africa, who is also accredited to Zimbabwe, visited Harare earlier this month in order to assess the humanitarian consequences of Operation Restore Order and has already submitted a full report to me on his visit. The ambassador will visit Zimbabwe again in the coming weeks and will make clear to the Zimbabwean authorities both our condemnation of Operation Restore Order and grave concerns at its humanitarian consequences. The ambassador and embassy are also in regular contact with Irish missionaries and NGOs operating in Zimbabwe who have been providing assistance to some of those worst affected by the consequences of Operation Restore Order.

The Government decided last week to provide an additional €1 million to the World Food Programme to support emergency feeding programmes for those most directly at threat from the current humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe. This additional funding will also be used to support emergency feeding programmes in Malawi. The Government has made available almost €7 million in emergency and recovery assistance to assist the people of Zimbabwe over the period 2002-2004, including €2.46 million last year.

The European Union issued a declaration on 7 June condemning the actions undertaken by the Zimbabwean Government within the framework of Operation Restore Order and calling for its immediate end. A joint statement was also issued following the EU-US summit in Washington DC on 20 June expressing grave concern at the current situation and calling on the Zimbabwean Government to reverse its anti-democratic policies. It is clear that pressure also needs to be exerted on Zimbabwe's neighbours in the Southern Africa Development Community, SADC, to use their influence with President Mugabe's Government to stop Operation Restore Order and address the humanitarian consequences. EU ambassadors are being directed to make such representations in SADC capitals. The EU's concerns were also raised at a senior officials meeting with SADC, which took place in Johannesburg on 20 June. I hope that AU leaders will address the human rights and humanitarian crisis resulting from Operation Restore Order at their forthcoming summit meeting in Sirte, Libya on 4 and 5 July.