In the Draft Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, released Friday 13th May 2016, Ireland has stated its support for all prison-related recommendations made by its peers with the exception of one recommendation, which it will review further.
The particular recommendations which Ireland has stated its support for include:
- Ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT) and the establishment of a national preventive mechanism;
- An improvement in the living conditions and treatment of prisoners;
- A reduction in overcrowding in prisons;
- A reduction in ‘slopping out’ through improvements to in-cell sanitation;
- The complete separation of remand and sentenced prisoners, adult and juvenile detainees, and immigrant detainees;
- The closure of Saint Patrick’s Institution;
- Human rights training for enforcement officials, including prison guards; and
- Cases of abuse and ill-treatment by prison officials to be investigated in an impartial manner.
While IPRT was disappointed that none of the above recommendations were discussed in the Programme for Partnership Government, published Wed 11th May 2016, we welcome the governments support to the vast majority of recommendations made under Ireland’s second UPR.
However, it is crucial now that the support for these recommendations be translated into action. Many of the same recommendations were accepted by the State following Ireland’s first UPR in 2011, with some seeing more action than others. For example, there have been positive developments in the greater use of alternatives to prison which have helped to reduce the overall levels of overcrowding, and the number of prisoners required to ‘slop out’ has also fallen significantly since the recommendation to improve in-cell sanitation was made at Ireland’s first UPR five years ago. On the other hand, although the State indicated to the UPR in October 2011 that it had recently approved preparation of legislation to ratify OPCAT, the Inspection of Places of Detention Bill remained on the “C List” of Governments legislative schedule as “Publication Expected: Not possible to indicate at this stage”.