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IPRT statement on deaths in prison custody

18th May 2015

The deaths of three prisoners have occurred in Irish prisons during May 2015. The Irish Penal Reform Trust would like to extend its condolences to the prisoners' families.

We note that separate investigations into the deaths which took place in Mountjoy Prison (8 May) and Midlands Prison (9 May) are being conducted by the Irish Prison Service and the Inspector of Prisons, with the cause of death to be determined by the Coroner.

We also note that a murder inquiry has been launched by Gardaí in relation to the death of a prisoner in Cork Prison (16 May), and separate investigations will be undertaken by the Inspector of Prisons and by the Irish Prison Service.

Under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, in order to be considered ‘effective’, investigations into deaths in custody must be prompt so that any systemic failures that may have contributed to the death of a prisoner can be identified and addressed, and potential future deaths avoided. IPRT expects the State to ensure that it meets its human rights obligations by thoroughly investigating the circumstances which led to these deaths and publishing the results of those investigations in a timely manner.

In the IPRT Position Paper 7: Complaints, Monitoring and Inspection in Prisons, IPRT clearly sets out the requirements of independent investigations into deaths in prison custody. The paper can be accessed here.

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