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IHRC: UN Committee Against Torture submission

12th April 2011

The Irish Human Rights Commission today published its submission to the United Nations Committee Against Torture. The overall aim of the report is to highlight the serious conditions which exist in places of detention in Ireland so that change can be made to comply with international human rights standards that prevent people being subjected to torture or inhumane or degrading treatment.

Speaking on the launch of the report, the director of the IHRC, Dr. Maurice Manning, said: 

"everyone is entitled to protection from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, including in places of detention. Regrettably, Ireland is failing to meet these obligations."

Some important recommendations include:

  • A review of all Irish penal policy, including the introduction of more community based sanctions so that less people go to prison.
  • That an independent statutory complaints mechanism, such as a Prisoner Ombudsman, should be appointed. The IHRC also recommends that the State should extend the remit of the Ombudsman for Children to include children in St. Patrick’s Institution. There is currently no independent complaints service for people in prison.
  • Overcrowding in prisons, including the overcrowding in the Dóchas Centre and Limerick Women’s Prison, and the practice of ‘slopping out’ needs to be addressed immediately.
  • Additional training and education should be provided for all prisoners so that they have constructive activity to engage with, in particular, there needs to be more facilities for young people in St. Patrick’s Institution.
  • It is also recommended that the State should end the practice of detaining children in adult institutions and that a timeline for the completion of the National Child Detention facility should be set.
  • In the review of Thornton hall, the Government needs to consider international best practice models which indicate that smaller prisons are recommended over larger ones.
  • Human rights training should be in place for people who work in the prison system and to those who work with prisoners and former prisoners.
  • Asylum seekers awaiting deportation should only be detained as a last resort, and where they are detained, they should only be kept in facilities that comply with international human rights standards. 

Dr.Manning also went on to say: 

"Many of the concerns raised in our report are re-statements of issues that successive governments have failed to act upon. It is clear to us that a comprehensive policy to protect people in places of detention, requiring cross departmental co-operation in its development and execution, is needed."

IPRT will be publishing our submission to the Committee along with the Irish Council of Civil Liberties and other organisations on 18th April.

Read more:

  • Read the full submission from IHRC here.
  • IHRC's press release can be accessed here.
  • An article from the Irish Examiner on the report is available here.