Rights Groups Tell UN of Ireland’s “Failure” to Combat Inhuman and Degrading Treatment

Top United Nations experts will today (Friday 20 May 2011) hear directly from Irish human rights groups concerned about the State’s track record in preventing inhuman and degrading treatment.

At a high-level UN meeting in Geneva, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) and the Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) will outline the findings of their Joint Shadow Report on Ireland under the United Nations Convention against Torture, which highlights serious weaknesses in Ireland’s systems to prevent inhuman and degrading treatment.

While their representatives are speaking at the United Nations in Geneva, the IPRT and the ICCL will launch their Joint Shadow Report in Dublin (at 11am at Buswells Hotel, Dublin 2).

The Joint Shadow Report identifies serious shortcomings in relation to critical areas including: access to a lawyer during Garda questioning, prison conditions, safeguards against deportation and effective rehabilitation services for victims of torture. It makes fifty clear recommendations on the actions which must be taken to address these deficiencies in human rights protection in Ireland.

The Report, co-written and jointly published by the ICCL and the IPRT, is part of an independent civil society response to the State’s own 2009 report to the Committee against Torture, which glosses over gaps is Ireland’s human rights safeguards and remains mute on the situation in our prisons.

At the launch, the ICCL and IPRT issued a joint call for the Government to establish effective and independent complaints and inspection systems for places where people are deprived of their liberty.

Speaking at the Dublin launch of the Joint Shadow Report, Mark Kelly, Director of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties said:

International action to combat ill-treatment is never effective unless there are strong national mechanisms to monitor places where people are deprived of their liberty.  Ireland has yet to establish effective complaints and inspection mechanisms that would satisfy United Nations human rights quality standards. Until it does, the systemic problems identified in this report will not be solved. 

Liam Herrick, Executive Director of the Irish Penal Reform Trust added:

Incredibly, given the national and international reports on overcrowding, lack of in-cell sanitation, and escalating inter-prisoner violence, the State report is largely silent on these acute human rights issues within the prisons. There is an urgent need for an independent complaints mechanism for prisoners, and an independent system for the investigation into deaths in prison. The NGOs present in Geneva will be calling on the UN Committee to make clear directions to the Irish Government to address these longstanding deficiencies in Ireland’s human rights protections

John Stanley of the Irish Refugee Council said:

Ireland also has the lowest recognition rate for refugees in the European Union and it is impossible to exclude the risk that some people with a well-founded fear of persecution may be returned to places where there is a risk of torture and ill-treatment.  With no independent oversight at ports of entry, there is a real fear that immigration officers may be refusing entry and returning persons with valid protection claims on the next plane.

 ICCL and IPRT representatives are available for further comment and interview in both Dublin and Geneva. For all media enquiries, or to arrange an interview with speakers, please contact:

  • Fíona Ní Chinnéide, Campaigns & Communications Officer, Irish Penal Reform Trust

T: + 353 1 874 1400         M: +353 87 135 4107          E: communications@iprt.ie

  • Walter Jayawardene, Communications Manager, Irish Council for Civil LibertiesT: + 353 1 799 4503           M:  +353 87 9981574        E: walter.jayawardene@iccl.ie



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