Statement of Foreign Affairs Committee on the situation in Syria

February 8th, 2012 - Pat Breen

8th February 2012

The Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade at its meeting today discussed human rights and the current situation in Syria. The Committee considered the Amnesty International Report ‘Year of Rebellion: The State of Human Rights in the Middle East and North Africa’. The Committee also heard evidence relating to Ireland’s bid to be elected to a seat on the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The Committee expresses its deep regret at the failure of the UN Security Council to reach unanimity in the face of this crisis. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights estimates that over 5,000 people have died in Syria during the current unrest. Amnesty International claims that at least 190 people, including children, have died in custody in recent months, many as a result of torture. There are also reports from Médicins sans Frontières that medicine is being used as a weapon of persecution by the Syrian regime, including the repression of NGOs and the targeting of those attending hospitals.

The Committee calls on Ireland and its EU partners to continue working with the League of Arab States to protect the lives of the civilian population in Syria. It is clear that President Assad’s approach of crushing dissent through military force has failed and that, without a political process, the situation in Syria is likely to descend into a protracted and bloody conflict. Ireland has a long tradition of promoting international human rights as a cornerstone of foreign relations and is currently seeking election to the UN Human Rights Council. Ireland, therefore, should be to the forefront of current EU engagement with Syria ensuring that the protection of human rights is a key driver in terms of seeking a settlement. The Committee affirms its solidarity with the people of Syria in the face of their ongoing repression.

Following a full debate on the situation in Syria, the statement was unanimously agreed by the Joint Committee.