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Ebulletin #52

11th November 2009

In this edition:

  1. Introduction 
  2. IPRT Position Paper 7: Complaints, Monitoring and Inspection in Prisons
  3. Prison Law Seminar Series - Mental Health in Prison: 19th November 2009
  4. Detention of Children - International Standards and Best Practice: launch, 30th November 2009
  5. IPRT in the News
  6. Ireland - First National Report under UN CAT
  7. Equality & Rights Alliance: ‘A Fairer Way’ Conference
  8. Barnardos Yes/No Campaign
  9. New Journals
  10. Upcoming Events

1. Introduction

Welcome to the fifth IPRT e-bulletin of 2009, in which we are delighted to announce the publication of another new Position Paper, the launch of the report on children detention standards and best practice, and the fourth in the IPRT Prison Law Seminar Series, which will focus on ‘Mental Health in Prison’.

Are you a member of IPRT?
One of the ways that you can support penal reform in Ireland, is to become a member of IPRT.

Become a member of IPRT now, and enjoy membership to 31 December 2010!________________________________________

2. IPRT Position Paper 7: Complaints, Monitoring and Inspection in Prisons

Monitoring and inspection of places of detention, as well as the establishment of an independent external mechanism for the review of prisoners’ complaints, are central to the protection of human rights of prisoners and form part of Ireland’s obligations under international law.

This Position Paper outlines the international standards pertaining to external scrutiny mechanisms, and assesses the current system of oversight in Ireland against those standards. It further makes recommendations for the improvement of current mechanisms, including a call for the establishment of an Office of Prisoner Ombudsman to deal with individual complaints.

Download the Position Paper here.

IPRT is committed to progressive penal reform through evidence-led policies, and these Position Papers are central to the work of IPRT in setting out the solid basis for our vision. For more information, contact Agnieszka Martynowicz, IPRT Research & Policy Officer, at: research@iprt.ie ________________________________________

3. Prison Law Seminar Series - Mental Health in Prison

The fourth in our Prison Law seminar series will take place in Dublin on November 19th, 2009 on the topic 'Mental Health in Prison.' IPRT co-hosts this series with the Irish Criminal Bar Association and the Dublin Solicitor’s Bar Association.


  • Dr Conor O'Neill, consultant forensic psychiatrist, Central Mental Hospital
  • Mr Dara Robinson, Solicitor
  • Mr Sean Gillane, SC

The seminar takes place at 5pm on 19th November, 2009 in St Michan’s Church, Church Street, Dublin 7 - Please note change of venue from the Distillery Building.

Previous seminars have been oversubscribed so registration is recommended. To reserve a place, please email Mary at: info@iprt.ie

The Prison Law seminar series is hosted jointly by Irish Penal Reform Trust, the Irish Criminal Bar Association and the Dublin Solicitors Bar Association, and seminars qualify for Continuing Professional Development for both solicitors and barristers.

4. Detention of Children - International Standards and Best Practice: launch, 30th November 2009

IPRT will launch its latest report, Detention of Children - International Standards and Best Practice, on 30th November 2009 at 3.30pm in Pearse Street Library, Dublin 2.

The research paper considers the application and implementation of international human rights standards to children detention in Ireland, and how the aims enshrined in these standards can be best achieved in the Irish context. The report also seeks to influence the debate on the design and best practice policies in the new National Children Detention Facility to be built at the Oberstown Campus in Lusk, whilst renewing a call for an immediate end to the detention of boys at St Patrick’s Institution.

The report includes a Foreword by Emily Logan, Ombudsman for Children.

Register to attend the event here. (Attendance is free, but places are limited.) For more information, contact IPRT at: 01-8741400 or info@iprt.ie

5. IPRT in the News – some highlights

On 6th October, RTÉ’s Prime Time reported on "Appalling conditions in Dublin's Mountjoy Prison". IPRT’s Liam Herrick and Brian Purcell, Director General of the Irish Prison Service, joined Miriam O’Callaghan in the studio.

On 9th October 2009, the number of people in custody in Irish prisons reached 4,009 – breaking the 4,000 mark for the first time in the Irish State. A new record we should not celebrate, it made the front page of The Irish Times.

Following a number of incidents in Castlerea and Mountjoy Prisons, RTÉ Six One News reported on violence in prisons on 29th October.

And on 9th October, an article by Agnieszka Martynowicz ‘European prison crowding ruling could lead to similar case here’ was published on the Law Matters pages of The Irish Times. The article was picked up by the Irish Daily Mail the following day, under the headline: ‘Cell a bit cramped? Europe says you can now sue the State’!

For links to our media activities, see: www.iprt.ie/iprt-in-the-news ________________________________________

6. Ireland - First National Report under UN CAT

Six years late but finally here!

The Government has just submitted its long-awaited First National Report under the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UN CAT). Ireland signed the UN CAT in 1992, and ratified it in 2002. States-Parties to the UN CAT are obliged to submit their initial report to the UN Committee against Torture one year after ratification - Ireland's first report was therefore delayed by six years.

UN CAT is one of the most important instruments of international law under which the treatment of individuals in custody in Ireland is examined by an international human rights body. Any individual in Ireland who considers that they are a victim of treatment that violates the UN CAT is also able to make a complaint to the UN Committee against Torture concerning such treatment.

The UN Committee against Torture will now consider the Report, and may communicate any concerns regarding the legal framework or practice in Ireland by issuing Concluding Observations and recommendations to the Government. The date of the formal examination of the Report is yet to be scheduled, but it is likely to take place in November 2010. IPRT is carefully studying Government's First Report, and will engage with the UN Committee along with the Irish Council of Civil Liberties, Amnesty International Ireland and other NGOs to make sure that an independent assessment of the situation in Ireland is communicated to the UN body.

Ireland's First National Report can be accessed here.

7. Equality and Rights Alliance: ‘A Fairer Ireland’ Conference

On 24th November, the Equality & Rights Alliance conference A Fairer Ireland: Equality and Rights at the Heart of Recovery will take place at The Radisson Hotel, Golden Lane, Dublin 8. The conference will explore the need for a statutory equality and human rights culture and infrastructure that works. Speakers include Karen Chouhan who was named a Key Visionary by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust in the UK. For full details of the conference programme, please click here.

Please note that RSVP is essential and early booking is advisable. You can book online at : www.eracampaign.org/registration.html  

Contact Rachel@eracampaign.org for more details.

8. Barnardos: Yes/No Campaign

Barnardos launched their “Yes/No” Child Poverty Campaign on Tuesday 10th November. The campaign includes a petition to protect children in Budget 2010. Read more here.

9. New Journals

(i) The Irish Journal of Criminology (IJC) is a peer-reviewed academic journal dealing with issues surrounding penology, criminology, rights and justice. IJC will publish edited collections of papers from an international pool of academics, relevant professionals and researchers on a twice yearly basis. The Irish Journal of Criminology, http://irishjournalofcriminology.blogspot.com, is published in Ireland by Greenhouse Press.

(ii) The inaugural edition of the Journal of Social Criminology (JSC), a peer reviewed international criminology journal, has been published. The JSC Review Board includes academics from the United States, the United Kingdom, Colombia, Norway and both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The key theme linking all of the contributions to this first edition of JSC is one of care-professional care for prisoners, ex-prisoners, prison officers, social care workers and for migrant care workers. Free access to the JSC is available here or by visiting: www.socialcriminology.webs.com

10. Upcoming Events

On 18th November, 2009, the final in the CSER-IRCHSS seminar series ‘Early Childhood Care and Education: Towards a Rights Based Policy Approach in Ireland’ takes place. ECEC Policy in Ireland: Towards a Rights-Based Policy Approach runs 2-5pm at DIT, Mountjoy Square. More info: cser@dit.ie

On 21st November, the Irish Human Rights Commission and the Law Society of Ireland will host their Annual Human Rights Conference Economic, Social and Cultural Rights – Making States Accountable. To register your interest in attending, contact: Anthea Moore, Law Society, tel: 01 6724961 or email: A.Moore@lawsociety.ie

On 24th November, the Equality & Rights Alliance conference A Fairer Ireland: Equality and Rights at the Heart of Recovery will take place at The Radisson Hotel, Golden Lane, Dublin 8. (See item 7 above.)

On 26th November, the Irish Centre for European Law will host a seminar ECHR update: The recent use of the ECHR in the Courts, Procedure, Remedies and Analysis at 5.50pm in The Distillery Building, Church St, Dublin 7. See www.icel.ie  for full programme, updates and booking conditions.

On 7th December, Manchester Metropolitan University will host a symposium celebrating the life of Pauline Campbell entitled The Social Reality of Prison: The call for human rights Contact Professor Scott Poynting for further information: s.poynting@mmu.ac.uk  

Irish Penal Reform Trust4th Floor, Equity House, 16-17 Upper Ormond Quay, Dublin 7
T: +353-(0)1-874-1400 E: info@iprt.ie W: www.iprt.ie

All articles are copyright 2009 Irish Penal Reform Trust, unless otherwise noted.

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