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IHRC publishes its Report to UN Universal Periodic Review

14th March 2011

The Irish Human Rights Commission has published its submission to the Twelfth Session of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Ireland. Human rights issues affecting prisons and prisoners receive particular mention.

The IHRC submission describes the physical conditions of prisons as "grossly inadequate" and failing to comply with Ireland’s international obligations. The IHRC raises particular concerns over "increased levels of incarceration and persistent overcrowding, high levels of inter-prisoner violence, inadequate sanitation facilities and the on-going process of “slopping out”, inadequate provision of healthcare, nonsegregation of remand prisoners, and inadequate mental health services."

Recommendations include:

  • the immediate end to the practice of “slopping out” and the urgent need for interim measures on this issue
  • the immediate ratification of OPCAT and establishment or designation of a National Preventative Mechanism to ensure oversight of places of detention in Ireland
  • the establishment of an independent Prisoner Ombudsman
  • an increased policy focus on the development of alternative, noncustodial sanctions rather than an increase in overall prison capacity
  • that the separation of sentenced and remand prisoners should
    be enforced

Speaking on the publication of the submission, Éamonn Mac Aodha, Chief Executive of the IHRC, said: "we are seriously concerned about conditions in Irish prisons. The ongoing practice of “slopping out” is degrading and dehumanising and must be stopped immediately. Dangerous levels of overcrowding in prisons, which has been exacerbated by imprisonment for minor offences, must be tackled without delay. In the longer term, a comprehensive penal policy should be developed, with a focus on the development of alternative non-custodial sanctions.”

IPRT is engaging with the UPR process as part of Your Rights. Rights Now, which has brought together seventeen civil society organisations to ensure that the collective voice of civil society is heard during Ireland’s UPR examination. We are also making a separate submission, which will be published on this website shortly.

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