Irish Penal Reform Trust

Joint Call to Action to implement the UN Bangkok Rules

10th December 2020

December 2020 marks the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-custodial Measures for Women Offenders (the Bangkok Rules). IPRT was one of 83 global civil society organisations what joined the Penal Reform International 'Call to Action' urging governments to implement the UN Bangkok Rules in full.

In the call to action, 83 organisations around the world expressed alarm at the significant increase in the global female prison population since the adoption of the Bangkok Rules – which aim to reduce the imprisonment of women – and the continuing discrimination and abuse experienced by women in criminal justice systems. The Joint Call to Action calls on governments to fully implement the Rules, and work to ensure the rights of women that come into contact with the criminal justice system. Specifically, it calls for governments to urgently:

  1. Reduce the imprisonment of women
  2. Promote the rehabilitation and social reintegration of women
  3. Ensure women’s rights are respected at all stages of the criminal justice system
  4. Facilitate mental healthcare provision in prison and undertake specific efforts to mitigate negative mental health impacts of COVID-19 measures affecting women

Despite the Rules giving guidance on prison usually being an ineffective and damaging response to offending by women, women’s prisons in Ireland have been crowded every year since the adoption of the Bangkok Rules 10 years ago. Approximately one-third of women in prison serving a sentence in Ireland are serving sentences of less than 12 months, which indicates that prison is not being used as a measure of last resort for women. Worryingly, the average number of women in custody in Ireland increased by 29% between 2009 and 2019. Women represented 11.8% of all committals in 2009, but this rose slightly to 12.5% in 2019. This increase is despite the introduction of the Fines (Payment and Recovery) Act 2014.

Read the Joint Call to Action on the Penal Reform International website here.

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

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