Tuesday, 28 July 2020
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
The Government is closely monitoring the situation in Hong Kong, following the adoption of a national security law on the 30 June by the Chinese National People's Congress.
I made a statement on 1 July to express my concern at the adoption of this law and reiterated Ireland's full support for fundamental freedoms in Hong Kong, such as freedom of expression and the right to peaceful assembly. I have also discussed the issue with the Chinese Ambassador.
Additionally, on 30 June 2020 Ireland was one of 27 States to sign up to a Joint Statement at the UN Human Rights Council which reiterates our concerns in Hong Kong. The Joint Statement highlights our concerns regarding the implication of this law for the autonomy of Hong Kong and the rights and freedoms that are guaranteed in the Hong Kong Basic Law.
The EU also issued a statement on this matter on the 1 July, which highlighted the EU's strong stake in the continued stability and prosperity of Hong Kong, and outlined our concerns regarding the conformity of this law with China's international commitments. Ireland fully supports this statement. The matter was also raised by the EU during the EU-China Summit on 22 June, and in a statement by the EU at UN Human Rights Council on 1 July.
The protection and promotion of human rights is a core pillar of Ireland's foreign policy, and we will continue to monitor and assess the situation, and to raise our concerns with the Chinese authorities bilaterally and in multilateral fora.
372. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if his attention has been drawn to the use of the death penalty in Bahrain, in particular in cases (details supplied); if he will intervene in same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18103/20]
374. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the nature of his most recent engagement with his counterparts in Bahrain; if he has discussed human rights conditions in Bahrain with them and or his European counterparts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18197/20]
377. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will address human rights violations in Bahrain; if he will condemn the use of the death penalty by the Government of Bahrain, including two persons (details supplied) who have been sentenced to death; and the actions he will take to raise awareness of this issue. [18249/20]
382. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if Bahrain will be requested to improve its position on human rights; if the execution of two pro-democracy activists (details supplied) will be raised with his Bahraini counterpart; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18356/20]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 372, 374, 377 and 382 together.
The human rights situation in Bahrain remains a matter of concern. Although progress has been made in certain areas, there continue to be instances of human rights violations. I am aware of the cases raised by the Deputies, and the decision of the Court of Cassation in Bahrain to confirm the death penalty ruling in their cases.
A moratorium on the death penalty had been in place in Bahrain since 2010 and the decision to resume the use of capital punishment in 2017 was deeply concerning. The execution of three people in Bahrain in July 2019 was a particularly negative development.
The abolition of capital punishment is one of Ireland's international priorities and we condemn the use of the death penalty in all circumstances. Ireland joins with the EU in calling on Bahrain to halt the execution of theses two individuals. Ireland fully supports the EEAS statement issued on 13 July, which notes that the death penalty “is incompatible with human dignity”, “does not serve as an effective deterrent to crime and makes any miscarriage of justice irreversible”.
Our principled stance on human rights feeds into our bilateral dialogue with Bahrain. Senior officials from my Department have raised our concerns about this case directly with the Bahraini Ambassador to Ireland, reiterating our long-standing opposition to the death penalty. When I met the Bahraini Foreign Minister at the UN General Assembly in New York in September 2019, I also raised the human rights situation in Bahrain with him, expressing the hope that we can have an open and honest discussion on these issues.
I note the recent statement made by the Bahraini Ministry of Foreign Affairs that, should countries which still use capital punishment, especially Islamic countries, agree to abolish the death penalty, that Bahrain would seriously consider this issue. I urge Bahrain to consider assuming a position of leadership in this regard.
At the most recent informal EU-Bahrain Human Rights dialogue in November 2019, issues discussed included the right to a fair trial, prison conditions, and the overall human rights situation in the country. I also understand that the EU Special Representative for Human Rights, Eamon Gilmore, has made contact with the Bahraini authorities in relation to these two cases.