Minister for Trade and Development, Joe Costello, TD, will today raise human rights abuses in Syria and Ukraine when he addresses the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva:
Speaking ahead of the meeting, Minister Costello said:
“We have witnessed some very disturbing violations of basic human rights in Ukraine. I have been particularly appalled at the many deaths and injuries in Kiev. Ireland, together with our EU partners, has called for an urgent, transparent and impartial investigation into all acts of violence and for the perpetrators to be brought to justice."
Following developments in Crimea over the weekend, the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Eamon Gilmore T.D., will travel to Brussels today to discuss the escalating crisis at an emergency meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council.
With regard to Syria, Minister Costello said:
“In Syria, people have endured ceaseless atrocities and crimes in recent years, in a conflict characterised by mass violations of human rights. I call on all those engaged in conflict to fully respect international humanitarian law and to refrain from the targeting of civilians”.
Delivering Ireland’s national statement to the HRC today, Minister Costello will also focus on the rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex people and express particular concern about the passing of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda:
“This regressive law is in clear conflict with Uganda’s binding international obligations to uphold human rights. I call on the Ugandan authorities to abolish all laws that contravene human rights obligations, including the draconian anti-homo-sexuality law. I urge the Ugandan Government to protect their citizens against violence, exclusion, discrimination, and arbitrary punishment.
“In 2011 Ireland co-sponsored the landmark UN Human Rights Council resolution on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity. We are particularly concerned about the introduction of deeply discriminatory legislation in some countries affecting the rights of LGBTI individuals. The Council’s voice needs to be heard louder than ever, as the most basic rights of LGBTI persons continue to be violated on a daily basis.
Minister Costello pointed to Ireland’s experience of improving equality:
“Ireland supports the promotion and protection of the human rights of all people, irrespective of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Our own national experience is an example of the breadth and pace of change that is possible, where there is political will. In 1993, homosexuality was decriminalised in Ireland. Since that time, we have worked to achieve equality by introducing legislation to prohibit discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in employment, the provision of goods and services and many other areas of life. In 2010, civil partnership for same-sex couples was introduced in Ireland, and a referendum to change the Constitution so as to permit same-sex marriage is due to take place in 2015.
Minister Costello will today express Ireland’s commitment the principle of non-discrimination, as set out by High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, and encourage the international community to secure the climate for full implementation of human rights.
He will also highlight Irish national initiatives on civil society space and preventable morbidity and mortality of children under five. During the visit Minister Costello will meet Dr. Margaret Chan, the Director General of the World Health Organisation, and Mr. Guy Ryder, the Director General of the International Labour Organisation, as well as representatives from key human rights NGOs.