Irish Penal Reform Trust

IPRT Submission to the UN Committee against Torture: Information for List of Issues

27th January 2020

In this submission to the UN Committee against Torture, IPRT outlines the progress made by Ireland on the 2017 Concluding Observations and further highlights a number of matters that might merit scrutiny during the next reporting cycle, at the 69th Session of the Committee Against Torture in April-May 2020.

This submission details various positive developments since the Concluding Observations 2017. These include:

  • There has been a significant reduction in the number of prison committals since 2017, largely as a result of the commencement of the Fines (Payment and Recovery) Act 20143 in 2016.
  • A National Violence Reduction Unit was opened in Midlands Prison in November 2018. This is the first co-led (operations and psychology) unit in the Irish State for prisoners who have a history of violence towards staff and other prisoners.
  • Following the death of the Inspector of Prisons in November 2016, a new Inspector of Prisons was appointed in May 2018.

However, a number of principal subjects of concerns and recommendations made by the Committee against Torture have not been addressed:

  • Ireland has failed to ratify the UN Optional Protocol on the Convention against Torture (OPCAT) and establish a national preventive mechanism;
  • There has been no prison inspection report published by the Office of the Inspector of Prisons since the Committee’s Concluding Observations in 2017;
  • Prisoners in Ireland have no access to an independent complaints appeal mechanism;
  • People with severe mental illness are detained for long periods in Irish prisons;
  • Prisoner numbers have increased, which has led to chronic overcrowding in some prisons - in particular, the two women’s prisons;
  • 14% of the prison population are held on restricted regimes, locked up for 19 or more hours per day.

Read IPRT's submission in 'Documents' below for more information and context on developments and issues of concern.

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

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