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thejournal.ie: 'Government urged to address ‘sub-standard’ prison conditions'

10th October 2011

Writing in thejournal.ie, reporter Aoife Barry details IPRT's response to the Government's commitments following prisons-related recommendations made by Member States during Ireland’s first hearing under the UN Universal Periodic review, which took place in Geneva on Thurs 6th Oct, 2011.

Measures to address overcrowding, slopping out, violence, and the lack of effective complaints and monitoring mechanisms were recommended by 17 of the 48 member states present at the hearing; 14 member states recommended that the government ratify the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OP-CAT).

Following the publication of the Outcomes Report, the IPRT is asking the government to put in place an effective independent complaints mechanism for adult prisoners and children held in St Patrick’s Institution, which is required before Ireland can ratify the OP-CAT.

The article cites a statement from the Department of Justice spokesperson that the government is “committed to the elimination” of slopping out in prisons, adding that 72% of cells currently have sanitation facilities. Works currently underway in the C-wing of Mountjoy, and an extension to the Midlands Prison due to open next year, will expand the number of cells with sanitation.

The spokesperon also said that toilet patrols are in operation until late evening in Mountjoy, Cork and Limerick Prisons with staff rostered to provide this function after final lock in the evenings, and that the possibility of extending toilet patrols is being further examined by the Irish Prison Service.

While welcoming that the Government accepted all prisons-related recommendations during the UN UPR, IPRT has called for concrete plans and timelines for the addressing of these serious issues.

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