Written answers

Thursday, 15 October 2020

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Human Rights

Photo of Joe O'BrienJoe O'Brien (Dublin Fingal, Green Party)
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155. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain; his plans to raise these issues as part of membership of the UN Security Council; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30718/20]

Photo of Simon CoveneySimon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
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Respect for human rights is an integral part of Ireland’s foreign policy, and we consistently raise our concerns on human rights issues through the most effective and appropriate channels. This commitment to human rights will consistently inform and underpin our approach on the Security Council, and we will continue to champion human rights through all appropriate multilateral fora, above all the UN Human Rights Council.

The human rights situation in Saudi Arabia remains a matter of serious concern. Last month at the UN Human Rights Council, Ireland co-signed a Joint Statement on the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia that expressed concern about the treatment of human rights defenders, use of the death penalty, and accountability for the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi, among other issues. Human rights issues are regularly raised in our bilateral contacts with the Saudi authorities.

Although Bahrain has repeatedly stated its commitment to improving its human rights record and safeguarding human rights as enshrined in the Bahraini Constitution, we are concerned by ongoing instances of violations of fundamental freedoms, including violations of freedom of opinion and expression, as well as the targeting of human rights defenders. My officials regularly meet with the Bahraini authorities to discuss the full range of bilateral and multilateral issues, including human rights.

As an EU Member State, Ireland also discusses human rights in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia through EU mechanisms. The next session of the informal EU-Bahrain Human Rights Dialogue, due to take place next month, will be an opportunity to discuss these issues. In addition, plans are at an advanced stage to establish an EU-Saudi Arabia Human Rights Dialogue, with the first session currently scheduled to take place in December. This will provide a valuable additional forum to discuss human rights issues, including individual cases.

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