10th November 2021
Ireland’s human rights record, including its failure to ratify international human rights treaties and its treatment of people in prison, will be examined by the UN Human Rights Council Working Group as part of Ireland’s third Universal Period Review (UPR) from 13.30 today (10.11.2021), via live webcast.
To inform the review, the Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) petitioned other UN States to make recommendations on Ireland’s human rights record relating to imprisonment. Chief among the concerns we raised are:
Today, States will submit questions to Ireland on its performance across a number of human rights treaties. The Irish State delegation will need to outline to its UN peers what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situation in Ireland and fulfil its human rights obligations.
During Ireland’s second UPR review in 2016, more than 20 States recommended that Ireland ratify an important international torture prevention treaty, the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture (OPCAT). Ireland had accepted this recommendation in 2011 and again in 2016. However, despite signing the treaty designed to prevent torture in all places of detention over 14 years ago, Ireland has not yet ratified the treaty. Given the ongoing impacts this has for all people deprived of their liberty in Ireland – including prisons, nursing homes and psychiatric units – it is expected that this failure will be once again highlighted at the examination later today.
Speaking in advance of the hearing, IPRT Executive Director Fíona Ní Chinnéide commented:
“The State is failing thousands of people and their families by not having robust and effective inspections and oversight mechanisms in place that protect against torture, abuse and ill-treatment in all places of detention, from residential centres for people with disabilities to Garda cells and prisons. Gaps in accountability, transparency and oversight can allow a culture of impunity to exist in places of detention.
“Ireland’s 14-year delay in strengthening its protection of people deprived of their liberty through ratification of the OPCAT treaty is unacceptable and contradicts Ireland’s view of itself as a leader in the promotion of human rights on the international stage. We need strong, time-specific questioning from our international peers on OPCAT and other accountability mechanisms later today."
IPRT has previously engaged with the UN UPR process, alongside other human rights mechanisms, to put international pressure on the State to end the practice of imprisoning children in adult prisons in Ireland. The end of this practice in 2016 speaks to the strength of UN processes, including UPR.
The UN Working Group’s Report on Ireland is due to be distributed at 15.30 (Geneva) Friday 12 November. The UPR Working Group is scheduled to adopt the recommendations made to Ireland shortly thereafter on 12 November.
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