24th January 2023
Children’s rights are under the spotlight this week with Ireland’s progress in implementing the Convention on the Rights of the Child to be examined further by the UN Committee.
The Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) is today (24 January 2023) attending the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (UN CRC) in Geneva to highlight the need for urgent Government action on youth justice and children with a family member in prison in Ireland.
Attending is IPRT Acting Executive Director, Molly Joyce, who is speaking to Committee members on concerns arising regarding the administration of youth justice and the challenges facing children with a family member in prison in Ireland. In particular, IPRT is calling for the application of the Irish child justice system to all children, including those who turn 18 while awaiting trial; raising the age of criminal responsibility to 14; and the explicit recognition of children with a family member in prison as a vulnerable group in need of specific supports in the new policy framework for children and young people.
Ms. Joyce explained:
“Clear timelines on amendment of the Children Act 2001 are needed to address the current situation whereby a child who turns 18 while awaiting trial for an offence they committed as a child loses the automatic protections of the 2001 Act. Ireland’s Youth Justice Strategy recognised that the 2001 Act’s provisions should apply to the processing of an offence with reference to the age at the time it was committed, irrespective of the age of the young person when the case comes to Court, but there has been no further movement in progressing these amendments of the Children Act 2001.”
Ms. Joyce went on to say:
“Another issue concerns the minimum age of criminal responsibility in Ireland and the need to make explicit in law that age is 14 in all circumstances and without exception. This is something the UN Committee has previously recommended to Ireland, and IPRT calls on the State to consider actioning this recommendation without further delay.”
Ms. Joyce continued:
“Plans to explicitly recognise children with a family member in prison as a vulnerable group in need of specific supports in the new policy framework for children and young people are needed. Any such mention should be substantive and include clear actions for how this cohort will be recognised and supported. This could be done through actions around improved data collection on this group and plans to include the cohort in national strategies relating to vulnerable children going forward.”
IPRT will be raising these issues alongside others, many of whom contributed to the comprehensive report produced by Children’s Rights Alliance entitled: ‘Are We There Yet - Civil Society Alternative Report in response to the Fifth and Sixth Combined Report of Ireland under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child’.
Contact for further details
Michelle Byrne, IPRT Communications Officer: firstname.lastname@example.org or 086 043 3060
NOTES TO EDITORS
The Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) is Ireland's leading non-governmental organisation campaigning for the rights of everyone in prison and the progressive reform of Irish penal policy, with prison as a last resort. See www.iprt.ie
IPRT is a member of the Children’s Rights Alliance
IPRT’s contributions to the comprehensive report produced by Children’s Rights Alliance, to inform Ireland's examination by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child this week, are on page 33—34 and pages 67 – 69 of Are We There Yet - Civil Society Alternative Report in response to the Fifth and Sixth Combined Report of Ireland under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child: https://www.childrensrights.ie/resources/are-we-there-yet-civil-society
IPRT made its own submission to the UNCRC in August 2022 – see details of the 22 recommendations here: https://iprt.ie/iprt-submissions/iprt-submission-to-the-un-committee-on-the-rights-of-the-child/
IPRT attended the 93rd pre-session of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child – see details of the submission here: https://iprt.ie/upcoming-events/iprt-attendance-at-93rd-pre-session-of-the-un-committee-on-the-rights-of-the-child/