Home > Dail Eireann debate. Written answers 283 & 298 - Consular services provision [Philippines] [29352/16 & 29863/16].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Written answers 283 & 298 - Consular services provision [Philippines] [29352/16 & 29863/16]. (14 Oct 2016)

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283. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade  his views on statements by the recently elected President of the Philippines regarding sentencing for persons arrested for drug offences, and on capital punishment; if these statements affect the attitude of the Government regarding any Irish nationals standing or likely to stand trial in the Philippines for such offences or for other offences; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [29352/16]


298. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if his attention has been drawn to the conviction of a person (details supplied); and if steps have been taken by his Department to ensure that this person is not subjected to any inhumane, degrading or discriminatory treatment due to their Irish citizenship.  [29863/16]


Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I propose to take Questions Nos. 280 to 283, inclusive, 288 and 298 together.


I am very much aware of this difficult consular case in the Philippines, and I and my Department officials are giving the matter priority attention. The individual concerned, who is currently on bail, has consistently maintained his innocence in the matter. I understand that there is to be an appeal to the Supreme Court.  Because of the separation of powers, the Philippines government cannot interfere in ongoing judicial proceedings.


The Government is concerned for the wellbeing of this Irish citizen and, both at political and official level, we regularly raise this case with senior Philippines Government representatives and we have made our concerns very clear. I have personally raised my concerns with senior Philippines Government contacts, including most recently three weeks ago in New York when I met with the Secretary of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines Government.


For any Irish citizen subject to criminal proceedings abroad, my Department officials will offer non-judgemental advice and any appropriate practical help that they can, irrespective of the alleged offence, and regardless of whether the individual is ultimately deemed to be innocent or guilty, is on remand or has already been sentenced by a court of law.


The Department’s priorities in cases of arrest or detention focus on ensuring that the Irish citizen involved is not discriminated against in any way on account of his nationality, has access to appropriate legal representation, and that the authorities in the country where he is being detained fulfil their obligations in relation to ensuring the citizen’s health and wellbeing.


It is also the Department’s policy to raise promptly with the relevant local authorities concerns that a detained Irish citizen may raise about their safety or treatment. My Department officials at headquarters in Dublin, at our Embassy in Singapore, which is accredited to the Philippines, and our Honorary Consul in Manila, have all been engaged in the case, have provided consular assistance fully in line with our general policy approach, and have raised the individual’s concerns with relevant authorities in Manila. The case has also been raised formally with the Ambassador of the Philippines to Ireland.


There is no doubt that the case has been further complicated by the domestic environment in the Philippines since July and the severe counter-drugs actions being pursued by President Duterte. I can assure the Deputies that the Philippines authorities are fully aware that I and my Department are following this case closely, and that we are concerned about the individual’s health and wellbeing. I would like to acknowledge that this is a very difficult time for this individual and also for his family. My Department officials, especially our Embassy in Singapore and our Honorary Consulate in Manila, will continue to maintain contact with this citizen and his family, and will provide whatever further appropriate consular assistance we can.


More generally in regards to recent reports on the approach towards the war on drugs which is currently underway in the Philippines, I expressed my concerns in this House on 16 September. Ireland opposes the use of capital punishment and has consistently called for its abolition in the United Nations and other fora.


Ireland supports the recommendations which were set out following a UN General Assembly Special Session on effectively addressing and countering the world drug problem held in April 2016. The UN set down that states should promote proportionate policies for drug-related offences, and promote and implement criminal justice responses to drug-related crimes that ensure legal guarantees and due process safeguards.


The impact of drugs on individuals, families and society presents a significant challenge for governments and the wider international community. Effectively addressing and mitigating their effects requires active and proportionate engagement, utilising both public health and criminal justice approaches, and full compliance with international law and international human rights standards. I welcome remarks made by President Duterte and my counterpart in the Philippines, Foreign Minister Perfecto Yasay, in which they have reiterated the Philippines Government’s commitment to respect human rights.

Item Type
Dail Debates
Publication Type
Irish-related, International
Drug Type
Substances (not alcohol/tobacco)
Intervention Type
14 October 2016

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