Irish Penal Reform Trust

IPRT Submission to Ireland's third UN Universal Periodic Review

25th March 2021

The IPRT submission* to the United Nations Universal Periodic Review focuses on the protection and promotion of human rights in Irish prisons and Oberstown Child Detention Campus. The submission also examines rights issues arising from Covid-19 and related restrictions.

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique process that involves a review of the human rights records of all UN Member States. The UPR is a State-driven process, which provides the opportunity for each State to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to fulfil their human rights obligations. Ireland's most recent review was in 2016.

Since Ireland’s last review under the UPR in 2016, there has been progress on recommendations as they relate to Ireland’s penal system. For example, there has been full implementation of the recommendation to end the imprisonment of children in adult prisons, and significant progress on the recommendation to end ‘slopping out’ in prisons. There has been partial or no implementation of recommendations in other areas, such as ratification of the OPCAT. There has been regress in areas including solitary confinement and prison overcrowding.

IPRT recommendations include: 

  • A human rights impact assessment should be carried out by parliament with urgency, and on an ongoing basis, to evaluate whether measures taken in response to Covid-19 in prisons are proportionate and necessary.
  • Ratify OPCAT and create an effective and independent National Preventive Mechanism; implement a fully independent prisoner complaints mechanism, including access to the Ombudsman; and strengthen the powers of the Office of the Inspector of Prisons.
  • Record and publish data on the length of time persons are held on restricted regimes; set out in legislation the maximum number of days for which a person can be held in solitary confinement; and prohibit solitary confinement for children, young adults, women, and persons with disabilities.
  • Use pre-trial detention as an exceptional measure; invest in access to bail supports; ensure remand prisoners held separately from sentenced prisoners; end the accommodation of immigration detainees in prison.
  • Increase access to therapeutic psychiatric beds in community facilities and in the Central Mental Hospital so that prisoners with mental illness can be quickly diverted from the criminal justice system and receive the care needed.
  • Governance of prison healthcare should be transferred to the national health service.          

Read the submission in full here, or download it below.

IPRT made a similar submission to the Consultation on the State Report for the UPR on 7th May, which is available to read here.

* IPRT has also endorsed the Universal Periodic Review Submission by the Irish Council for Civil Liberties to the 39th Session of the UPR Working Group.

Respect for rights in the penal system with prison as a last resort.



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