Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Ceisteanna (392)

Gino Kenny

Ceist:

392. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the engagement he has had with the Chinese Ambassador regarding the treatment of the Uighur people by China; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24394/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

Ireland, along with our EU partners, remains deeply concerned about the treatment of Uighurs and other ethnic minorities in the province of Xinjiang. We are closely following the situation, including in relation to reports of systemic abuse, torture, arbitrary detention, forced labour, forced sterilisations, and restrictions on freedom of religion and belief.

In response to the situation, under the EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime (EUGHRSR), the EU adopted sanctions on 22 March 2021 against 1 entity and 4 individuals in China due to their involvement in human rights abuses in Xinjiang. The EUGHRSR allows the EU to target serious human rights violations and abuses by State and non-State actors worldwide. It enables the EU to respond rapidly and in a more tangible and direct way for human rights, one of the fundamental values of the EU and its foreign policy.

Ireland and the EU have also raised our concerns with Chinese authorities in both bilateral and multilateral contexts. Over the course of 2020, the EU raised its concerns regarding the human rights situation in China with Chinese authorities during its high-level engagements at the EU-China Summit and EU-China Leader's Meetings .

More recently, Ireland raised concerns regarding the situation in Xinjiang in our National Statement at the UN Human Rights Council in March this year. Prior to this, we also reiterated our concerns in our National Statement at the UN Human Rights Council in September last year, which urged China to allow unrestricted access to the region for the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Ireland has also supported a number of joint initiatives in the UN system. We joined a Statement at the UN Third Committee on 6 October 2020 that reiterates our grave concern regarding the situation in Xinjiang, and recalls the exceptional letter of concern issued by 50 UN Special Procedures mandate holders. This letter called on China to respect human rights and to allow immediate, meaningful and unfettered access to Xinjiang for independent observers.

The protection and promotion of human rights is a core pillar of Ireland's foreign policy. The situation in Xinjiang and other issues of concern to Ireland are frequently raised with the Chinese Embassy by my Department and in discussions I have had with the Ambassador. The Government will continue to monitor and assess the situation and engage with Chinese authorities bilaterally and in multilateral fora to address such issues as effectively as possible.