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

5th August 2022

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

IPRT welcomes UN Human Rights Committee’s clear focus on key human rights issues impacting people in prison

27th July 2022

MEDIA RELEASE: IPRT welcomed the clear focus by the UN Human Rights Committee on issues pertaining to people deprived of their liberty including prison overcrowding, access to adequate mental healthcare, the failure to publish reports relating to the Dóchas Centre, the overrepresentation of Travellers in the penal system and the need to ratify OPCAT.

Follow-up on Ireland's third UPR Review

15th July 2022

Following the third cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Ireland, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has written to the Minister for Foreign Affairs in order to highlight areas requiring “particular attention” before Ireland’s fourth UPR cycle.

Ireland’s human rights record to come under the spotlight at UN hearing – IPRT

3rd July 2022

MEDIA RELEASE: IPRT will ask the UN Human Rights Committee to question State officials on how Ireland is meeting its human rights obligations to people in prison, as part of the State’s fifth review under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

IPRT welcomes the publication of the General Scheme of the Inspection of Places of Detention Bill

24th June 2022

IPRT statement on the publication of the General Scheme of the Inspection of Places of Detention Bill by the Minister for Justice on 24 June 2022.

Alternative Report on Ireland’s Fifth Review under ICCPR

30th May 2022

IPRT welcomed the opportunity to provide this alternative report to the UN Human Rights Committee on Ireland’s fifth review under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

Minister for Justice publishes Justice Plan 2022

28th March 2022

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee TD has published Justice Plan 2022, outlining 159 actions to continue building a justice system that works for everyone.

Draft Report on Ireland’s third UPR

12th November 2021

IPRT summarises the recommendations relating to the work of IPRT made by States during the review, following the adoption and publication of the Draft Report on Friday 12th November.

Ireland’s human rights record under the spotlight by UN peers – IPRT

10th November 2021

PRESS NOTICE: 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.

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.

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