IPRT - Irish Penal Reform Trust

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Prison issues raised by UN Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders

4th March 2013

The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Margaret Sekaggya, has called on Ireland to establish an independent and effective mechanism to receive complaints from those in prison, such as an ombudsperson, and, in the meantime, address allegations of intimidation of those attempting to submit complaints of human rights violations in the current system.

Paragraphs 99-102 in the report on the UN Special Rapporteur's Mission to Ireland (19 – 23 November 2012) deal specifically with prison-related issues, including: overcrowding, slopping out, complaints, intimidation of prisoners in St Patrick's Institution and challenges faced by defenders who work assisting children held at St. Patrick’s, in particular in their access to children on protection. 

On independent complaints, the report notes:

"While she takes note that, as of 1 November 2012, serious complaints by prisoners are subject to independent investigation beyond the internal complaints procedure under the Inspector of Prisons, the Special Rapporteur is of the view that a fully independent complaints mechanism would be more effective and help to ensure that complainants are protected against acts of retaliation."

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