IPRT welcomes the publication by the Inspector of Prisons of Standards for the Inspection of Prisons in Ireland, a set of standards that constitute a benchmark for the assessment of prison conditions in Ireland. Publication of the standards forms an important step towards the creation of a uniform inspection regime of prison conditions, and guidance for the management of prisons.
IPRT particularly welcomes the inclusion in the document of international human rights standards, and the recognition that they constitute a benchmark against which the practice in Irish prisons should be assessed.
IPRT believes in the principle that ‘imprisonment is punishment’; it is the sentence of deprivation of liberty that is the core punitive sanction. IPRT’s position is that conditions and treatment while in prison should not be used as additional punishment. This is also reflected in the standards document which outlines that “the deprivation of liberty is a punishment in itself and should not deprive prisoners of human rights that are not lawfully taken from them as a consequence of imprisonment.”
Such focus should ensure that the human rights obligations Ireland is required to implement will be central to the policy and practice of the Irish Prison Service. IPRT will monitor the implementation of the standards by following closely the Inspector of Prison’s activities in the coming year.
IPRT also looks forward to the publication of additional standards which will apply to children aged 16 and 17, who are currently held at St Patrick’s Institution. IPRT remains deeply concerned at the ongoing practice of holding children in prison, which contravenes human rights standards.
On this occasion, IPRT would like to urge the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform to publish the Inspector of Prison’s 'Annual Report 2008' without further delay.
Standards for the Inspection of Prisons in Ireland may be accessed here: www.inspectorofprisons.ie/en/IOP/Pages/Standards_publication