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Written answers

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Human Rights

Photo of Seán CroweSeán Crowe (Dublin South West, Sinn Fein)
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166. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if his attention has been drawn to the fact that 26 September 2016 will mark two years since 43 teaching students were forcibly disappeared and six killed as they made their way to a protest in Guerrero, Mexico; since then, investigations have indicated state involvement at almost every level but no-one has ever been brought to justice for these crimes; that despite repeated calls for justice from the UN and the IACHR, the families continue to search for their beloved ones; and if he will raise his concerns over these killings and disappearances with his Mexican counterpart. [27597/16]

Photo of Seán CroweSeán Crowe (Dublin South West, Sinn Fein)
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167. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if his attention has been drawn to the fact that official statistics in Mexico register 28,472 disappeared persons in the country; that this puts modern-day Mexico on a par with Argentina or Chile under their brutal dictatorships, and even with Colombia which has lived through violent conflict for more than half a century; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the concerns of NGOs that this statistic represents only a fraction of the true number of those disappeared in Mexico; and if he will raise his concern over the continued mass disappearances, some by state forces or collusion with state forces, with his Mexican counterpart. [27598/16]

Photo of Charles FlanaganCharles Flanagan (Laois, Fine Gael)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 166 and 167 together.

Firstly, as we mark the second anniversary of those tragic events, allow me to reiterate my sympathies to the families of the 43 students who disappeared in Iguala, Mexico in September 2014. Those families need and deserve answers, and it is critically important that a full and comprehensive investigation of their disappearance be carried out.

Ireland, along with its EU partners, has urged the Mexican government to ensure that a comprehensive investigation into the events in Iguala in September 2014 takes place, and to continue to take steps to address human rights challenges in Mexico.

Ireland fully supports the work of the Group of Independent Experts (GIEI) appointed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to investigate the disappearances. I welcome the agreement reached earlier this month between the Mexican authorities and the GIEI on a mechanism to follow up on the recommendations made by the GIEI in its two reports of its investigations.

My Department has provided over €1.2 million in funding to the IACHR since 2005. During the visit of Mr Emilio Álvarez Icaza, the IACHR Executive Secretary, to Dublin in March of this year, my officials discussed with him the Iguala case and assured him of our support for the continued work of the GIEI.

The broader issue of disappearances in Mexico continues to be of grave concern. I am aware of the troubling statistics quoted by the Deputy.

Ireland and other EU Member States engage with the Mexican authorities on human rights on an ongoing basis. In particular the EU uses the High-Level Dialogue on Human Rights, the High-Level Political Dialogue and the Security and Justice Dialogue, to raise issues related to human rights, rule of law and security with the Mexican authorities. These fora allow for open and frank discussions on human rights and related citizen security issues in Mexico and the EU.

The sixth session of the High-Level Dialogue on Human Rights between the EU and Mexico was held in June 2016 in Brussels. Both sides agreed on the importance of continued cooperation to effectively address challenges in the area of human rights, particularly on issues such as the rule of law and the fight against impunity, missing and disappeared persons, torture, discrimination, migration, and the protection of vulnerable groups, human rights defenders and journalists.

EU member states are to the fore in funding projects led by national and international NGOs aimed at tackling impunity and improving the protection of human rights in Mexico. For its part, Ireland has also provided support to civil society and missionary organisations for development projects to improve, amongst other things, the human rights situation in Mexico.

Photo of Seán CroweSeán Crowe (Dublin South West, Sinn Fein)
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168. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if his attention has been drawn the illegal demolition of a Syrian home by the Israeli authorities in the occupied Syrian Golan that took place two weeks ago; that Syrian owners of between 80 and 90 houses have received orders that their homes are due to be demolished; that it is highly likely that this home demolition marks the adoption of a new systematic policy of administrative home demolitions directed at the native Syrian population in the occupied Syrian Golan; and if he will raise his concerns over this illegal action with his Israeli counterpart. [27630/16]

Photo of Charles FlanaganCharles Flanagan (Laois, Fine Gael)
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I have repeatedly made clear my concerns about demolition of homes and seizures of land by the Israeli occupation authorities. We have conveyed these concerns to the Israeli authorities, and worked to focus EU attention on them. However, my Department cannot attempt to track and take action on the case of every individual house.

All people living under occupation are entitled to respect and protection from occupation authorities. However, our concerns over these policies are most acute in relation to the West Bank, where they are working to make impossible the achievement of a peace agreement and the establishment of a Palestinian state. By contrast, it is generally acknowledged that any comprehensive peace between Israel and the Arab states will involve the return of the Golan area to Syria.

My primary focus in relation to Syria at present is on the appalling violence, destruction and slaughter afflicting the Syrian people across much of the rest of the country.

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