4th June 2018
IPRT held a broad consultation to assist with updating our information booklet Know Your Rights – Your Rights as a Prisoner, which aims to help prisoners understand their rights while in prison. We launched the first version of this booklet in 2012, in conjunction with the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL).
We are now in the process of developing a new booklet, and updating the material in a way that's both reflective of any changes in policy and inclusive of all prisoners. We held a small consultation with organisations who support prisoners and some service users with experience of imprisonment. This round-table discussion on possible information to include in this booklet was facilitated by Damien Coffey of Sheehan and Partners Solicitors.
It was incredibly useful for IPRT to hear the lived experience and realities of those present, and to hear of the importance and impact of these rights. Further consultations will take place with other stakeholders, and we hope to relaunch the booklet in early 2019.
Photo: Derek Speirs
IPRT also held a seminar on 17th May in the Ashling Hotel with representatives of the Office of the Press Ombudsman (OPO) and the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI), on how prisoners can make a complaint if they feel they have been unfairly treated by the media. In attendance were those with experience of imprisonment and the organisations that support them. Bernie Grogan (Case Officer, OPO) spoke about the complaints process for when there is an alleged breach of the Code of Practice of the Press Council. She also shared examples of previous complaints by prisoners/ex-prisoners which were upheld. The OPO also provides a leaflet on how specifically they can assist prisoners.
Declan McLoughlin (Senior Manager, BAI) presented on the complaints handling process of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, for when broadcasting codes have not been complied with by TV or radio shows. He also shared a brief summary of the guidelines for making a complaint and directed us to examples of prior published complaints.
The Press Ombudsman (Peter Feeney) joined us for a Q&A following the presentation.
The seminar was useful way of building capacity for organisations dealing with prisoners and former prisoners, to recognise when the codes of practice have been broken and make complaints, with the aim of ensuring fairer treatment of prisoners in the media going forward.
Photo: Derek Speirs
Respect for rights in the penal system with prison as a last resort.