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Ó Snodaigh - Proposed EU law violates obligation to protect refugees

2 October, 2003

Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Justice, Equality and Human Rights Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has called on the Minister for Justice to oppose a proposed EU asylum law that will be discussed at the meeting of the EU Justice and Home Affairs Council in Brussels today and tomorrow. Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

"There has been no public debate about Ireland's position on this proposal which has attracted major criticism from human rights groups. According to the UNHCR the creation of a so-called 'white list' of safe countries could compromise the protection of refugees and interfere with the fulfillment of Ireland's - and indeed the EU's - international obligations. They have warned that this measure could lead to people being returned to a dangerous situation in their home country, contrary to international law.

"Given the life and death stakes involved, this measure should have been publicly debated and given proper consideration. At the very least, in the interests of accountability and transparency the Minister should have made his position known in advance. Given his relentless assault on refugees since he assumed office in 2002, and his expressed disdain for the opinions of human rights experts, I have deep misgivings that he will rubber stamp this measure through. Even at this late stage I urge him to do the right thing and oppose the EU proposal on white lists in the name of international justice." ENDS

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