Dáil Éireann - Volume 503 - 20 April, 1999
Written Answers. - Human Rights Abuses.
Mr. Power Mr. Power
185. Mr. Power asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the contact, if any, he has made with the Sudanese authorities on behalf of two priests being held on charges of conspiracy to plant bombs in Khartoum; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10230/99]
Mr. Andrews Mr. Andrews
Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Andrews): The Government remains extremely concerned about the trials of Fathers Leno Sebit and Hilary Boma and their co-accused, detained following the bombings which took place in Khartoum last June. We have been especially concerned that they were being tried by military tribunal with limited access to their legal representatives and under threat of the death penalty. The Government is continuing its efforts aimed at ensuring that these trials are conducted in accordance with international standards of human rights and justice and with a right of appeal. The current position is that the competence of the military tribunal to hear the cases is under review by the constitutional court, which has adjourned the relevant hearings. Pending the outcome of the hearings, some priest colleagues have been able to accompany lawyers visiting the accused in prison.
The Government's concerns about the human rights situation in Sudan, including these cases, were raised when I met the Minister for External Affairs of Sudan, Dr. Mustafa Ismail Osman, during his official visit to Dublin on 12 April. I have previously raised them at the EU General Affairs  Council and they are being addressed in the Union's ongoing contacts with the Sudanese authorities. In addition, they are being pursued by the Irish Ambassador in Cairo who is also accredited to Sudan; at my request, he has been monitoring the cases since last year. The matter is also being followed closely by the Embassy to the Holy Sea. The Papal Nuncio to Sudan has previously visited the accused. Our continuing concerns about human rights violations in Sudan are under active discussion at the current session of the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva.
The Government will continue its efforts, both bilaterally and in conjunction with EU partners, to urge the Sudanese authorities to treat these cases in accordance with international standards of human rights and justice. We will closely monitor any future hearings. It is hoped that our efforts can help to ensure a fair trial for those accused as well as contribute to building the confidence necessary for lasting peace with justice for all people of Sudan.
Dáil Éireann 503 Written Answers. Human Rights Abuses.