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Press Release: UN Torture Committee puts tough questions on prison issues to Irish Government

27th July 2017


UN Torture Committee puts tough questions on prison issues to Irish Government


The UN Committee on Torture has today (27.07.17) questioned Ireland about its efforts to ensure that the rights of everyone in the penal system are respected and on progress on various issues of concern. The Committee stressed that it is crucial that the highest levels of external oversight apply wherever people are deprived of their liberty.

While the Committee recognised progress made by Ireland in relation to chronic overcrowding, the practice of slopping out, and the removal of children from St. Patrick’s Institution, it noted that other issues persist.

Issues raised by Committee member and rapporteur for Ireland, Ms Ana Racu, included:

  • Whether there are sufficient resources to ensure regular prison inspections and the publication of reports.
  • Concerns at serious flaws in the prison complaints system, in particular the lack of an external appeals mechanism for prisoners.
  • The lengths of time people are being held in solitary confinement, with clear direction from the Committee that this must be a “measure of last resort, an exceptional measure and for the shortest time possible”.
  • Concrete steps taken by the Government to transfer responsibility for the provision and oversight of prison health services to the Department of Health, as previously recommended by the Committee and by the Inspector of Prisons.
  • A lack of adequate mental health and drug treatment services across the prison estate, including needle exchange programmes.

Acting Executive Director of the Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT), Fíona Ní Chinnéide said: “IPRT welcomes the high level of scrutiny given by the UN Committee to Ireland’s penal system today.

“It is very clear that the Committee was well prepared and had listened to our interventions ahead of today’s hearing. We hope that the Irish Government also listened closely today, and we look forward to strong commitments to progress policies and legislation tomorrow.”


Contact: Sebastian Enke, DHR Communications, Tel: 01-4200580 / 087-3239496.

Note to Editors:

  • Fíona Ní Chinnéide is available for interviews on request. She is currently in Geneva and will attend tomorrow’s UN hearing.
  • IPRT’s submission to the UN Committee against Torture is available for download here: http://bit.ly/2uvAA29.

About the IPRT

Established in 1994, the Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) is Ireland's leading non-governmental organisation campaigning for rights in the penal system and the progressive reform of Irish penal policy. Its vision is one of respect for rights in the penal system with prison as a last resort. IPRT is committed to respecting the rights of everyone in the penal system and to reducing imprisonment. It is working towards progressive reform of the penal system based on evidence-led policies and on a commitment to combating social injustice.

IPRT publishes a wide range of policy positions and research documents; it campaigns vigorously across a wide range of penal policy issues; and has established itself as the leading independent voice in public debate on the Irish penal system.

Learn more