25th July 2008
Today the UN Human Rights Committee has issued its Concluding Observations (recommendations) following its recent examination of Ireland's human rights record in Geneva. Among these very detailed recommendations, the Committee has taken up the concerns about prison policy and prison conditions set out in the NGO Shadow Report which was launched on 14 July 2008 by IPRT, ICCL and FLAC.
Among the recommendations of the Committee are:
The Committee is concerned about increased levels of incarceration in Ireland.
It is particularly concerned about the persistence of unacceptable prison conditions including:
§ Insufficient personal hygiene conditions, including slopping out,
§ Non-segregation of remand prisoners,
§ The shortage of mental health care for detainees, and
§ The high level of inter-prisoner violence
The Committee has requested that the State provide it with detailed statistical data showing progress since the adoption of the present recommendation, including on concrete promotion and implementation of alternative measures to detention.
IPRT Director Liam Herrick welcomed the recommendations
"These recommendations reflect the urgency and importance with which the international human rights system views the problems facing our prison system."
"Perhaps most significantly of all, the Committee clearly warns against increasingly levels of imprisonment and asks the State to make greater use of alternatives to custody, particularly for groups such as fine defaulters. As other countries have shown this is a realistic target which could have great economic and social benefits as well as reducing the harm that imprisonment can do."
Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT)
Full details on the UN Human Rights Committee proceedings can be found at www.rightsmonitor.org