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Government must 'Come Clean' on Torture Committee Observations

10th February 2010

Two of Ireland’s leading human rights watchdogs, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) and the Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) have called on the Government to “come clean” and make public the initial findings of the European anti-torture group that completed a visit to Ireland last week.

The Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) made its fifth visit to Ireland from 25 January to 5 February 2010, investigating conditions of detention in prisons, and examining the safeguards in place in Garda stations. The delegation also investigated conditions in psychiatric institutions and an establishment for the intellectually disabled.  At the end of the visit, the CPT delegation presented its preliminary observations to the Irish authorities.

Speaking shortly after the Council of Europe released details of the visit, ICCL Director Mr Mark Kelly said:

“Europe’s anti-torture watchdog has just presented the Irish authorities with preliminary observations on its findings during a fortnight-long visit to some of the most problematic places of detention in the State. If the Government is serious about meeting its human rights obligations, it should come clean about the parlous state of our custody centres by making public the CPT’s preliminary observations.”

Mr Liam Herrick, Executive Director of the IPRT said:

“Following the CPT’s last visit to Ireland in October 2006, it called on the Government to tackle, amongst other things, the continuing problem of overcrowding in the Irish prison system, inadequate regime activities, and the inhuman practice of ‘slopping out’. The Committee also expressed grave concerns regarding the level of violence in Irish prisons, making them unsafe for both prisoners and staff alike.

Their visit this year will undoubtedly have documented the inadequate progress the Government has made in these areas. The IPRT calls on the Government to release the CPT’s preliminary observations immediately so that swift action can be taken to improve the inhumane conditions in Irish prisons.”

For more information, please contact:

Fíona Ní Chinnéide,

Campaigns & Communications Officer, Irish Penal Reform Trust

T: + 353 1 874 1400          
E:
communications@iprt.ie

Walter Jayawardene
Campaigns and Communications Officer, Irish Council for Civil Liberties
T: + 353 1 799 4504
M: +353 87 9981574
E: walter.jayawardene@iccl.ie

Note to editors:

A delegation of the Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) carried out a visit to Ireland from 25 January to 5 February 2010.

In the course of the visit, the delegation held talks with the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) and the Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT). It also met with Mr Dermot AHERN TD, Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Mr John MOLONEY TD, Minister for Equality, Disability and Mental Health at the Department of Health, and Mr Barry ANDREWS TD, Minister of State with responsibility for Children and Youth Affairs. The delegation also met Mr Brian PURCELL, Director General of Prisons, and other senior government officials from the Ministries of Health and Children and of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, as well as the Garda Ombudsman Commission, the Inspector of Prisons and representatives of the Irish Human Rights Commission.

The delegation visited the following places of deprivation of liberty:

Establishments under the authority of the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform:

An Garda Síochána:

- Bridewell Garda station, Cork

- Mayfield Garda Station, Cork

- Bridewell Garda station, Dublin

- Coolock Garda station, Dublin

- Finglas Garda station, Dublin

- Kevin Street Garda station, Dublin

- Santry Garda station, Dublin

- Store Street Garda station, Dublin

- Sundrive Road Garda Station, Dublin

- Tallaght Garda station, Dublin

- Mullingar Garda station

Irish Prison Service:

- Cork Prison

- Limerick Prison (female section)

- Midlands Prison

- Mountjoy Prison

- Portlaoise Prison

- St Patrick’s Institution

Targetted visits were paid to Cloverhill and Wheatfield Prisons and the Dóchas Women’s Centre to examine care afforded to prisoners with a mental health disorder.

Establishments under the authority of the Department of Health and Children:

- Central Mental Hospital, Dundrum, Dublin

- St Brendan’s Hospital, Dublin

- St Ita’s Hospital, Portrane

- St Joseph’s Intellectual Disabilities Services, Portrane

The CPT’s full press release is available at: http://www.cpt.coe.int/documents/irl/2010-02-09-eng.htm

The CPT’s report on its October 2006 visit to Ireland can be downloaded at:

http://www.cpt.coe.int/documents/irl/2007-40-inf-eng.htm#_Toc165257456