Irish Penal Reform Trust

Human Rights Committee: Concluding observations on the fourth periodic report of Ireland

24th July 2014

The UN Human Rights Committee’s Concluding observations on the fourth periodic report of Ireland were published today, Thurs 24th July 2014. The recommendations follow the State’s examination under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in Geneva on 14 July 2014. 

The Concluding Observations are available here.

IPRT welcomes the Committee's observations and recommendations here.

The sections dealing with conditions of detention and imprisonment for fines are included below.


Conditions of detention

15. While welcoming the measures taken by the State party to improve conditions of detention and to increase the use of community sanctions as an alternative to imprisonment, as well as the progress achieved, the Committee is concerned at the lack of progress in eliminating adverse conditions in a number of prisons in the State party, such as: (i) overcrowding; (ii) lack of in-cell sanitation facilities; (iii) lack of segregation of remand and convicted prisoners, and between detained immigrants and sentenced prisoners; and (iv) the high level of inter-prisoner violence. While noting the introduction of a new complaints model in the Irish Prison Service, the Committee is concerned that it does not provide for a fully independent system for dealing with every serious prisoner complaint (arts. 9 and 10).

The State party should step up its efforts to improve the living conditions and treatment of detainees and address overcrowding and the practice of “slopping outas a matter of urgency in line with the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (U.N. Doc. E/5988 (1977)). It should establish a concrete timeline for the achievement of complete separation of remand and sentenced prisoners, juvenile and adult prisoners and detained immigrants and sentenced prisoners. It should also implement the new complaints model for all categories of complaints without further delay and ensure its independent functioning.

Imprisonment for failure to pay fines

16. The Committee expresses concern at the number of persons being imprisoned for failure to pay fines in connection with their inability to fulfil contractual obligations despite the adoption of the Enforcement of Court Orders (Amendment) Act 2009 and the Fines (Payment and Recovery) Act 2014 (art. 11).

The State party should fully implement the Fines (Payment and Recovery) Act 2014 to provide for a community service order as an alternative to imprisonment for failure to pay court ordered fines or civil debt, and ensure that in no case is imprisonment used as a method of enforcing contractual obligations.


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



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