24th April 2023
IPRT welcomes the report on the Review of Prison Visiting Committees published by the Minister for Justice Simon Harris on Monday 24 April 2023. The report has been informed by a wide-ranging public and stakeholder consultation, including IPRT's Submission to the Department of Justice on the Review of the Prison Visiting Committee's, of which the vast majority of IPRT's recommendations are included in the report.
The report provides 22 legislative recommendations and 27 non-legislative recommendations, the majority of which are focused on the structure, membership and appointment process of the Committees.
IPRT is pleased to see that recommendations have been made to address issues that we have consistently highlighted regarding delays in the publication of the Visiting Committee Annual Reports have been included. IPRT also welcomes the attention given to IPRT's annual Progress in the Penal System (PIPS) reports as part of the review.
In order to ensure the prison system is effective, reform of Ireland’s Prison Visiting Committees is urgently needed. As Ireland moves to strengthen independent oversight and accountability by ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Contention against Torture (OPCAT), Prison Visiting Committee reform should be central to this process.
IPRT urges this Government and the Department of Justice to implement the recommendations within the review without delay.
Respect for rights in the penal system with prison as a last resort.