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EU member states must do more to protect human rights of its citizen's - Mary Lou McDonald

17 January, 2005

Sinn Féin MEP for Dublin Mary Lou McDonald has today called upon the European Union to 'lead by example on the protection and promotion of human, civil and political rights'. Ms McDonald made her comments after a report by Human Rights Watch criticised the EU and its member states for rolling back human rights protections for its citizens.

Speaking from Brussels Ms McDonald said:

"The report by Human Rights Watch confirms what Sinn Féin has been saying consistently in regards to human rights protections by member states. We have consistently argued that present EU policy is focussed upon, and fixated with security to the detriment of freedom, justice and rights.

"We continue to see a rush towards an EU security and surveillance state which is obsessed with gathering data about citizens. Of particular concern are measures such as universal mandatory data retention and the introduction of biometric identifiers on passports, visas and residency permits - and now, potentially, national ID cards if Michael McDowell has his way. We oppose this approach, not only because they are draconian measures, but because they will not make communities or member states any safer.

"According to the findings of the Human Rights Watch report 'regional and national policies and practices have focussed on keeping migrants and asylum seekers out of Europe. Sinn Féin is concerned at the evolution of a 'Fortress Europe' with many member states actively working toward this.

"In the Six Counties, asylum seekers 'lucky' enough to reach our shores are detained in prison facilities whilst their applications are being processed. The practice is immoral and locking asylum seekers in prison is a disgraceful practice, which clearly breaches human rights standards and must be ended. In the 26 Counties the Government continues to detain deportees in overcrowded prison conditions in Cloverhill, despite a recommendation from the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture that this practice should cease.

"The European Union is quick to criticise the human rights records of nations beyond its own borders when they are perceived to be at fault, therefore it is imperative that the EU leads by example on the protection and promotion of human, civil and political rights." ENDS

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