Irish Penal Reform Trust

IPRT Submission to Initial State Report under the UN CRPD 2021

6th April 2021

IPRT welcomed the opportunity to make a submission on the State’s Initial Report under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Through the submission, we hope to highlight the particular needs of people with disabilities in prison in Ireland.

In 2019, IPRT commissioned research on the experience of prisoners with disabilities, resulting in the publication of the report ‘Making Rights Real for People with Disabilities in Prison’ in January 2020. The report addresses the rights and experiences of prisoners with all forms of disability, including physical, intellectual, sensory and psychosocial. The research was carried out by researchers attached to the Centre for Disability Law and Policy at the National University of Ireland Galway, and was funded by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC).

While the State’s Initial Report provides some information about the current situation of prisoners with disabilities in Ireland, it does not set out the full picture. In our submission, we outlined gaps in the State's initial report. (Details in the submission below.)

We also set out recommendations for strengthening the State's Inial Report, as follows:

  1. Further detail and information about the current situation of people with disabilities in Irish prisons should be included in the State’s Initial Report to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, so as to ensure the Committee has an accurate and up-to-date report on Ireland’s progress in implementing the CRPD.
  2. Serious consideration should be given to implementing the recommendations made by the Making Rights Real report, such as undertaking an accessibility audit of all prison settings, engaging in a disability equality analysis of the Irish Prison Service and carrying out further research to understand the pre- and post-prison experiences of prisoners with disabilities, and addressing these efforts and/or plans for implementation in the State’s Initial Report.
  3. The Government’s commitment to exploring the profile of the mental health needs of the prison population so as to “gather data on the prevalence of autism, intellectual disability and needs relating to addiction and dual diagnosis” (as recorded in the Government’s ‘Sharing the Vision: A Mental Health Policy for Everyone’) should be included in the State’s Initial Report, with a repeat of the Government’s support for this initiative.
  4. This Initial Report on the CRPD may be used as an opportunity for the State to consider transferring responsibility for prison healthcare from the Irish Prison Service to the Health Service Executive (a recommendation made by the Inspector of Prisons in a 2016 report on healthcare in Irish prisons and an approach favoured by the World Health Organisation). Benefits to this approach include an overall improvement in prison health, which in turn could assist in improving the treatment of persons with disabilities in prison.

The IPRT submission can be read in full here, or downloaded below.

Respect for rights in the penal system with prison as a last resort.

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