Irish Penal Reform Trust

Ratification of OPCAT

The Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture (OPCAT) is an international human rights treaty which assists States in preventing torture and other forms of ill-treatment in places of detention.

Ireland signed OPCAT in October 2007, but almost a decade on it is yet to ratify it.

The Optional Protocol (OPCAT) was agreed by the UN General Assembly in 2002, introducing a combined system of national and international monitoring of places of detention with a view to preventing ill-treatment.

Places of detention are not limited to prisons. OPCAT applies to anywhere where people are deprived of their liberty. Examples of places of detention include, but are not limited to:

  • Psychiatric units;
  • Juvenile detention centres;
  • Immigration detention centres;
  • Pre-trial detention facilities;
  • Garda stations.

Accountability in places of detention is crucial. Monitoring and inspection, along with an effective independent complaints mechanism for detainees, are central to the protection of human rights and form part of Ireland’s obligations under international law.

The aim of OPCAT is to strengthen the protection of persons deprived of their liberty. IPRT supports this goal and believes that independent monitoring under OPCAT will serve to strengthen a culture of human rights within Irish detention facilities.

For more information on OPCAT, click here.

IPRT presentation to Universal Periodic Review (UPR) pre-session

7th October 2021

IPRT was one of the civil society organisations chosen to make a statement at the pre-session meeting of Ireland’s UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on 7th October 2021.

Department of Justice: Mid-Year Progress Report on Justice Plan 2021

12th August 2021

The Mid-Year Progress Report on Justice Plan 2021 was published in August, and details the progress made so far to achieve 5 goals - or 240 actions - identified in the Justice Action Plan 2021 published earlier this year.

SPT issues follow-up advice relating to COVID-19

24th June 2021

The Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (SPT) has published new advice to States parties and national preventive mechanisms relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.

IPRT Submission to Ireland's third UN Universal Periodic Review

25th March 2021

The IPRT submission to the UN UPR 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.

Justice Plan 2021 and Department of Justice Strategy Statement 2021-2023

22nd February 2021

Justice Plan 2021 is the first of a series of annual plans which the Minister will introduce to drive reforms across the Justice Sector. Each year, the Plan will be updated with new actions and timelines for delivery. IPRT welcomes this transparency.

IPRT Submission to LoIPR process on Ireland's Fifth Periodic Examination under the ICCPR

2nd October 2020

This submisison to the Human Rights Committee on Ireland's Fifth Periodic Examination under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights is part of the suggested List of Issues (LoIPR) process, pinpointing key areas where the Committee might seek to question the State.

IPRT statement on a death in Cloverhill Prison

29th September 2020

It is understood through media reports that the deceased became unresponsive following the use of control and restraint techniques by a number of prison staff. While the Office of the Inspector of Prisons will investigate the death, IPRT underlines that robust procedures, resources and a legislative basis must be in place to enable the Inspector of Prisons carry out these investigations effectively.

Independence of prison inspections must be supported in legislation and resourcing – IPRT

15th September 2020

MEDIA ADVISORY: The Irish Penal Reform Trust has welcomed the launch of ‘Inspection Framework for Prisons in Ireland’ by the Minister for Justice Ms Helen McEntee TD, but called for increased resourcing of the Office of the Inspector of Prisons, and for laws that allow the Inspector of Prisons to publish reports directly and not through the Minister for Justice.

Welcome opportunity for renewed and sustained reform – IPRT congratulates Ministers on appointments

29th June 2020

The Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) has today congratulated Minister Helen McEntee TD on her appointment as Minister for Justice. IPRT is looking forward to working with the Minister on the implementation of evidence-led justice commitments in the Programme for Government.

The relationship between civil society and the NPM: UK and Ireland

26th June 2020

This webinar brought together international experts and local actors with a joint focus of sharing knowledge and practice on how to build positive relationships between civil society and National Preventative Mechanisms (NPMs) under the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT).

‘Our Shared Future’ – Draft Programme for Government 2020+

15th June 2020

IPRT strongly welcomes many of the proposals in the draft Programme for Government. In particular, we welcome that the document reflects all of the five recommendations IPRT campaigned on in advance of the 2020 General Election.

APT and ODIHR: Monitoring Places of Detention through the COVID-19 pandemic

4th June 2020

People detained prior to the pandemic have seen their rights restricted further and are exposed to greater health risks. This new practical guidance from the APT and ODIHR details how these who monitor places of detention can continue their monitoring functions during COVID-19.

UN Committee against Torture publishes list of issues prior to reporting

25th May 2020

In advance of Ireland’s third periodic hearing under the UN Convention against Torture, the Committee against Torture has requested information on a list of issues from Ireland. This was informed by submissions by civil society, including IPRT.

Human Rights and Detention in the time of COVID-19: UK and Ireland

29th April 2020

On 29th April 2020, IPRT co-hosted an international online seminar on ‘Human Rights & Detention in the time of COVID-19: UK and Ireland’.

Adapting to COVID-19: Prison Oversight and Monitoring During a Pandemic

22nd April 2020

The Network on External Prison Oversight and Human Rights has published a special issue newsletter focusing on prison oversight and monitoring during COVID-19. Experts in oversight and monitoring in places of deprivation of liberty have contributed to the issue, to share updates on how oversight roles are shifting during this pandemic.

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

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