Irish Penal Reform Trust

IPRT Submission to the Joint Committee on Justice on the General Scheme of the Inspection of Places of Detention Bill 2022

5th August 2022

IPRT welcomes the opportunity to make a submission to the Joint Committee on Justice on the General Scheme of the Inspection of Places of Detention Bill 2022 (‘the Bill’). This is an important, and overdue, piece of legislation.

The submission examines the General Scheme of the Inspection of Places of Detention Bill 2022 “Head by Head” but also includes at the outset an ‘Introduction’ and a section on ‘Background and Overarching Observations’.

IPRT understands that the Bill is still very much in draft form and is only the first step towards making the significant reforms proposed. We anticipate that there will be a lot of further work on the Bill over the coming months and we hope to continue engaging with this Committee, as well as the Department of Justice and other key stakeholders, in developing an effective piece of legislation which delivers transformative change and attracts widespread support.

In total, the IPRT submission makes 36 recommendations on the Draft General Scheme of the Bill.

This Bill, and the ratification of OPCAT, represents an historic opportunity to strengthen the culture of human rights within Irish detention facilities and put in place safeguards to ensure that some of the most vulnerable individuals in our society are protected. IPRT urges the Committee to accordingly give this Bill the time and attention it deserves, and to ensure that it is as effective as possible. As the Bill progresses through the Houses of the Oireachtas, IPRT recommends that the Government should immediately ratify OPCAT in the meantime. This has also been recommended by IHREC and is possible under Article 24 of OPCAT, which provides that a State – upon ratification – may make a declaration postponing the implementation of its obligations under Part III (relating to visits from the SPT) or Part IV (relating to NPMs) for a maximum of three years (extendable by a further two years). Immediate ratification would further signal Ireland’s commitment to OPCAT and preventing torture in places of detention and help ensure the current momentum is not lost.

Read the IPRT submission in full here.

Read a list of IPRT’s recommendations on the Bill here.

August 2022
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