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Foreign Affairs | Illegal imprisonment of human rights defenders globally

To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs the degree to which political or religious or other opponents of various regimes globally are currently in prison illegally; if efforts continue to be made for their release; and if he will make a statement on the matter.


Ireland strongly advocates for democracy, democratic values, the rule of law, civil society space, and respect for human rights as key foreign policy priorities, across our bilateral, EU and multilateral engagement, including at the UN Human Rights Council and at the UN Security Council.

Ireland calls on all States to adhere to their international commitments and obligations, including for the immediate and unconditional release of all persons in arbitrary detention, including political opposition leaders. Ireland also routinely expresses concerns at the discrimination, persecution, intimidation and violence endured by religious or other minorities in various parts of the world.

Ireland remains gravely concerned by the unacceptable pressures being experienced by human rights defenders and civil society around the world, including arbitrary detention and imprisonment. The protection of human rights defenders remains a key foreign policy priority for Ireland. Ireland has a long-term, strategic partnership with Front Line Defenders since 2001 which is supported by Irish Aid to deliver protection grants to human rights defenders to improve their security, both physical and digital, and to assist with legal fees or medical expenses.

Ireland also consistently raises the issues of Freedom of Religion or Belief, and religuous intolerance, at the UN, including through the Universal Periodic Review process, as well as through European Union Human Rights Dialogues with other countries. At the most recent 51st Session of the UN Human Rights Council, Ireland continued to express our concern on human rights issues, including in relation to Afghanistan, Belarus, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Myanmar, occupied Palestinian territory, Syria, South Sudan, Venezuela and in light of Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.

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