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Council of Europe Anti-Torture Committee visits Ireland

18th October 2006

Press release from the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture

Strasbourg, 18.10.2006 - A delegation of the Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) recently carried out a twelve-day visit to Ireland. It was the CPT's fourth periodic visit to Ireland.

During the visit, which began on 2 October, the delegation reviewed the measures taken by the Irish authorities following the recommendations made by the Committee after its previous visits. Particular attention was paid to the treatment of persons detained by the An Garda Síochána (Police) and the operation of the various safeguards in place. The delegation also examined in detail a number of issues relating to prisons, including the conditions of detention of inmates in segregation or subject to measures of protection, the phenomenon of inter-prisoner violence, the provision of health care and issues pertaining to complaints and discipline. Another area of examination related to mental health care of prisoners and the care provided to forensic psychiatric patients.

In the course of the visit, the CPT's delegation held consultations with Michael McDOWELL, Tanaiste and Minister of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Mary HARNEY, Minister of Health, Brian LENIHAN, Minister of State with responsibility for children, Tim O'MALLEY, Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children, Fachtna MURPHY, Deputy Garda Commissioner and Brian PURCELL, Director General of Prisons as well as other senior government officials. It also met with the newly appointed Garda Ombudsman Commission, members of the Police Complaints Board, Justice Dermot KINLEN (Inspector of Prisons and Places of Detention), and representatives of the Irish Human Rights Commission.
Discussions were held with members of non-governmental organisations active in areas of concern to the CPT and with members of the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

At the end of the visit, the delegation presented its preliminary observations to the Irish authorities.

The visit was carried out by the following members of the CPT:

    -     Mario FELICE, Head of delegation (Maltese)
    -     Aleš BUTALA (Slovenian)
    -     Latif HUSEYNOV (Azerbaijani)
    -     Ann-Marie ORLER (Swedish).

They were supported by Hugh CHETWYND, Head of Division, and Marco LEIDEKKER of the CPT's Secretariat, and assisted by three experts: Tatjana SIMMINS, psychiatrist, Geneva (Switzerland), Eric DURAND, former Head of the Medical Services at Fleury-Mérogis Prison (France) and Alan MITCHELL, former Head of Health Care, Scottish Prison Service (United Kingdom).

The delegation visited the following places:

Establishments under the Ministry of Justice, Equality and Law Reform

An Garda Síochána:

    -     Detention facilities at Athlone Garda station
    -     Detention facilities at Castlerea Garda station
    -     Detention facilities at Galway Garda station
    -     Detention facilities at Henry Street Garda station, Limerick
    -     Detention facilities at Kevin Street Garda station,Dublin
    -     Detention facilities at Mountjoy Garda station, Dublin
    -     Detention facilities at Mullingar Garda station
    -     Detention facilities at Roxborough Road Garda station, Limerick
    -     Detention facilities at Sligo Garda station
    -     Detention facilities at Store Street Garda station, Dublin

Prison Service:

    -     Castlerea Prison
    -     Cloverhill Prison
    -     Limerick Prison
    -     Mountjoy Prison
    -     Saint Patrick's Institution for Youth Offenders

Targetted visits were also paid to Cork and Wheatfield Prisons to examine persons held in the segregation areas and those subject to measures of protection.

Establishments under the Ministry of Health and Children

- Central Mental Hospital, Dundrum