IPRT - Irish Penal Reform Trust

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Did you know that Ireland hasn't met its commitment to ratify OPCAT?

26th June 2014

Today, the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, IPRT is highlighting that the Government has yet to meet its commitment to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT).

What is OPCAT?

"The basic premise is that the more open and transparent places of detention are, the lesser the risk for abuse."

The APT (Association for the Prevention of Torture) in Geneva sets out what the OPCAT is, what it can do, and what States have to do to meet its requirements here.

What's the delay?

Ireland signed the OPCAT in October 2007, but has yet to ratify it. The commitment commitment to ratify was included in the Programme for Government, published in March 2011, and remains in the 'C' list of legislation, within the proposed 'Inspection of Places of Detention Bill':

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 heads of the Bill have yet to be approved by Government, with a current status of: "Publication Expected - Not possible to indicate at this stage".

Accountability is crucial.

Accountability in prisons is crucial. Monitoring and inspection of places of detention, along with an effective independent complaints mechanism for prisoners, are central to the protection of human rights of prisoners and form part of Ireland’s obligations under international law.

The creation of a National Preventative Mechanism (NPM) and the ratification by Ireland of the OPCAT would act as a safeguard against the potential inhumane treatment of people in places of detention in Ireland.

Read more about IPRT's position on accountability in prisons here.

Learn more