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IPRT calls on Government to introduce legal framework regarding single separation for children

7th November 2017

The Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) has called on the Government to introduce a legal framework governing the holding of children in single separation. IPRT made the call in light of a High Court judgement delivered today (06.11.17) in a case taken by four young males against Oberstown Children Detention Campus in Lusk, Co Dublin.

Ms Justice Úna Ní­ Raifeartaigh ruled that the plaintiffs had experienced a “limited” breach of their constitutional rights arising from the treatment at Oberstown following incidents at the detention centre in August 2016. Justice Ní Raifeartaigh said that while separating the four males into locked rooms for periods of up to three weeks following these incidents was not unconstitutional, their constitutional rights were breached in relation to the lack of procedural safeguards, physical exercise and contact with their families.

Executive Director of IPRT, Deirdre Malone commented: “Today’s judgement highlights the absence of a clear legal framework to govern the use of single separation in places of child detention in Ireland. Solitary confinement (in excess of 22 hours) should never be used for children and where single separation is imposed, strict safeguards should apply.

“Children in custody are often characterised by experiences of adversity and trauma and international best practice makes it clear that the impacts of isolation are more profound on children than on adults. Single separation of children can be extremely damaging and should only be used as a last resort and where other interventions have proven unsuccessful, and it should be imposed for the shortest time possible.

“We welcome the attention this case has brought to the issue of single separation imposed on children in detention. We continue to be concerned about the use of prolonged separation of children from their peers on campus at Oberstown and we are calling on the Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan TD and Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone TD to introduce regulations governing the use of single separation.   

“In line with good governance and accountability on the Oberstown campus, and with the best interest of the children detained in mind, IPRT is also calling for the publication of the review of operations at Oberstown.”


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

Note to Editors

  • Executive Director of IPRT, Deirdre Malone, is available for comment on request

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.

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