The Irish Human Rights Commission has published its Observations on the Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions) Bill 2012, stating that "the proposed legislation is overly restrictive and will not assist in re-integrating people convicted of minor offences back into society and employment."
Key Recommendations of the IHRC:
- Need to assess benefits of Spent Convictions Bill in light of the impact of the Vetting Bill currently before the Oireachtas, particularly in light of the scope of vetting being undertaken in Ireland, for example, in areas such as applying for a range of CAO courses;
- Introduce prohibition on discrimination on grounds of criminal conviction into Equality legislation;
- Shorten rehabilitation periods in legislation to make it proportionate with offences;
- Redefine definition of 'vulnerable person' to comply with international human right standards;
- Information on spent convictions to be subject to data protection provisions;
- Remove requirement to declare spent convictions outside of Ireland;
- Remove limitation on number of convictions per person to be considered spent;
- Extend the sentencing threshold beyond 12 months to enable people convicted of a more serious offence to apply to a court to have their sentences considered spent, if appropriate.
The IHRC identifies issues arising from contradictions between two pieces of legislation - the Spent Convictions Bill and the proposed National Vetting Bill - and details how the former is insufficient on its own in terms of dealing with discrimination that might arise. On this last point, Dr Maurice Manning, President of the IHRC, is quoted thus:
"The grounds of discrimination in the Employment Equality and Equal Status legislation should be extended to include discrimination on the basis of a criminal conviction. Without such a prohibition on discrimination the Spent Convictions Bill may be of little assistance in practice. Such an anti-discrimination provision would enable the future Human Rights and Equality Commission to consider cases of discrimination based on a person's criminal record."
Des Hogan, Acting Chief Executive of the IHRC, added:
"There should be no limitation on the number of convictions per person where they come within the other criteria of the legislation and multiple convictions for the one incident should be regarded as one conviction for the purposes of the legislation."
IPRT will publish its observations on the Spent Convictions Bill 2012 including case-studies tomorrow, Tuesday 12th June, 2012.
- IHRC Observations on the Spent Convictions Bill 2012
- IHRC Press Release (June 2012): IHRC says proposed Spent Convictions legislation too restrictive to be effective
- IPRT Press Release (May 2012): Spent Convictions Bill welcomed but legislation could go further in reducing barriers to reintegration
- IPRT Position Paper on Spent Convictions (Nov 2008)
- Irish Independent: 'Shorten seven year stretch before minor convictions expire call'
- The Irish Times: Offenders rejoining society 'not helped' by Bills
See the IPRT Spent Convictions Campaign section here.