Dáil Éireann - Volume 574 - 13 November, 2003

Written Answers. - Foreign Conflicts.

  92. Ms McManus asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his position on the need for an international inquiry into the massacres in Algeria in 1988; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26712/03]

  Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Cowen): The deaths which occurred during the riots of October 1988 still are a matter of deep concern to the international community. Estimates of the loss of life range between 159 and approximately 500 across the entire country. While the circumstances surrounding the deaths remain unclear in many cases, it is widely accepted that most of them were due to the actions of the security forces. The situation deteriorated substantially with civil conflict and, ultimately, the widespread massacres of 1997 and 1998. The civil conflict is estimated to have cost the lives of at least 100,000 people between 1992 and the present day, and in the massacres of 1997-98, whole villages were wiped out with the loss of thousands of lives. In many cases the responsibility for the massacres remains disputed.

  Throughout the civil conflict and subsequently, the Government has taken every appropriate step to express its concern to the Algerian authorities about the situation. The Government also strongly supported international efforts to have the massacres of 1997 and 1998 investigated by UN special rapporteurs. Regrettably, the then Government of Algeria refused to co-operate with these efforts despite the pressure placed upon that government by the international community. The Government continues to take the view that the Algerian Government should co-operate fully with all efforts by international humanitarian agencies to investigate these massacres or any other allegations of human rights abuse.

  At international fora such as the UN Commission on Human Rights, we and our EU partners have urged the Government of Algeria to take concrete measures to improve the human [833]rights situation in the country. We also urged it to respond positively to the requests for visits by the UN special rapporteur on torture and the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, and to establish independent mechanisms for the investigation of human rights violations and to bring those responsible to justice.

  Question No. 93 answered with Question No. 11.