The Government’s Legislative Programme for the Spring Session 2012 has been announced. The full programme is available here.
IPRT welcomes the inclusion of the Spent Convictions Bill in the A-list Bills expected to be published from the start of the Dáil session to the beginning of the next session.) IPRT has long been campaigning for this legislation. (See the Spent Convictions campaign section here.) Ireland is the only country in the EU which does not have a scheme for the non-disclosure of less-serious convictions following a set rehabiliative period, which means that punishment in Ireland is lifelong, no matter how minor the conviction.
IPRT also welcomes the inclusion of an Inspection of Places of Detention Bill in the C-list, with an expected publication date during 2012. The purpose of the Bill is "To give legislative effect to the OPCAT, strengthen Prisons Inspectorate, put Council of Europe inspection regime on a statutory footing and address matters relating to Prison Visiting Committees." The lack of an independent complaints mechanism for prisoners in Ireland is a serious concern, and IPRT welcomes recent commitments by the Minister for Justice around addressing this issue.
Other relevant Bills in the C-list include the Criminal Justice (Fines) (Amendment) Bill, which will "provide for attachment of earnings and social welfare payments as an alternative to imprisonment for people who refuse to pay". However, given that the Fines Act 2010 is not yet fully commenced, more than 18 months after being signed into law - and in the meantime thousands have continued to be imprisoned for fines default - IPRT calls in the first instance for the Minister for Justice to ensure the implementation of the upgrades to the Courts ICT system necessary to allow the payment of fines by instalment.
Read the full programme of legislation here.