Govt Criticised For Failing To Support End Of Female Genital Mutilation

Ireland was praised for taking significant steps to protect human rights during the EU Presidency earlier this year in a review published today by Amnesty International.

However, the Government was strongly criticised for a confused and inadequate approach to EU action on ending female genital mutilation.

Iverna McGowan and Colm O'Gorman of Amnesty International delivered recommendations for the EU Presidency to the Tánaiste in January.

Colm O'Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland, said: "There were some big wins for human rights in Ireland's presidency.

"The Irish Government's emphasis on putting human rights at the heart of the EU's foreign policy was both significant and welcome. The presidency played a positive role in ensuring a robust international Arms Trade Treaty was agreed at the start of April.

"The statement from the presidency on International Roma Day was a welcome demonstration of political support for Roma rights. So too was the Oireachtas Committee on EU Affairs' facilitating a Roma activist's attendance at an important meeting of members states' EU parliamentary committees in June. A further welcome development was the delivery of strong new guidelines published on human rights for LGBTI persons."

Amnesty International recognised the presidency's efforts to keep negotiation of the Anti-Discrimination Directive alive in the Council and the push for further EU action to counter hate crime, racism, anti-Semitism and homophobia.

The organisation also strongly supports Ireland's efforts to develop an EU internal human rights policy and welcomed the presidency putting the protection of EU citizens' fundamental rights on the agenda of the Justice & Home Affairs Council.

But Amnesty International also highlighted what it termed a significant 'missed opportunity' by the Government's failure to support EU efforts to end female genital mutilation (FGM), which affects an estimated 180,000 women in Europe every year.

Colm O'Gorman said: "The failure to accomplish anything in support of EU efforts to end FGM was a significant missed opportunity.

"During the first few months of the presidency it wasn't clear whether anyone in the Government knew which department was responsible for working in the area as anti-FGM activists were passed from minister to minister. There was no sign of support from the presidency for efforts by the EU Commission to prioritise the issue.

"It's been three years since the EU promised to create a strategy to combat violence against women, including FGM, and nothing has happened. The Irish presidency had a real chance to jumpstart this and assist some of the thousands of women and girls across Europe who are under threat of FGM."


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