Irish Penal Reform Trust

UN Torture Committee to make recommendations to Irish Government on Friday 11 August 2017

10th August 2017

On Friday 11th August 2017, the United Nations Committee against Torture will publish its Concluding Observations on Ireland’s performance under the UN Convention against Torture and Other Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT). This concludes a rigorous second periodic review of Ireland’s compliance with the convention.

Strong recommendations to the Irish Government for improvements in areas relating to immigration, healthcare, detention, violence against women, reproductive rights and historic abuse are anticipated by leading non-Governmental organisations, who will be available for comment.

In advance of Ireland’s review under the UNCAT, which took place on 27th and 28th July 2017 in Geneva, the Committee received 20 submissions from Irish NGOs addressing issues of:

  • Torture and Ill-treatment in places of deprivation of liberty
  • Torture and ill-treatment in health care settings
  • Torture and ill-treatment of migrants and asylum seekers
  • Historic / Institutional abuse
  • Violence against Women
  • Sexual and Reproductive Rights

Representatives of 16 NGOs travelled to Geneva to engage directly with the UN Committee, presenting evidence of Ireland’s failure to meet its convention obligations in certain areas.

A joint NGO statement presented on 26th July 2017 to the Committee called for the strongest recommendation possible to the Irish Government to ratify the OPCAT (Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture) with urgency. Failure to do so “perpetuates a situation that increases the vulnerability of all persons currently in detention to torture and ill-treatment”. Ireland signed the OPCAT on 2nd October 2007, but has yet to ratify this important torture prevention tool.

The engagement of the Irish Government and State agencies with the UNCAT monitoring process was strongly welcomed by NGOs in Geneva. Similarly, the State delegation openly welcomed the contribution of civil society to the process.

We look forward to the Committee’s observations and recommendations following its rigorous review of Ireland, and to the Government’s plans on how it will fulfill the Committee’s recommendations.


1. On Friday 11th August 2017, the UN Committee against Torture will publish its concluding Observations on Ireland. Currently scheduled for publication at 12pm GMT (1pm in Geneva), the document will be published here:

2. The following organisations will be available for comment:

  • For comment on issues relating to violence against women, please contact Noeline Blackwell, Dublin Rape Crisis Centre at: 086-8139089
  • For comment on issues relating to maternity care, please contact Philomena Canning, Midwives for Choice at: 087-2900017
  •  For comment on issues relating to prison and child detention, please contact the Irish Penal Reform Trust, Fíona Ní Chinnéide at: 087-1812990
  • For comment on Ryan Report follow up issues, please contact Reclaiming Self, Fionna Fox at: 086-3848177
  • For comment on the practice of forced symphysiotomy, please contact Marie O'Connor, Chairperson of Survivors of Symphysiotomy at: 086-8180254 or email
  • For comment on issues relating to vulnerable adults and older people please contact Sage Support and Advocacy Service Michelle Rooney, Legal and Financial Coordinator at: 086 1831428
  • For comments on issues relating to psychiatric settings contact Fiona Walsh at: or 087 2367365 
  • For comment on issues relating to rehabilitation of torture victims in the asylum process, please contact SPIRASI, Paula Quirke, Rehabilitation Coordinator at: 01-8389664 or
  • For comment on issues relating to International Protection Procedures and the asylum process more generally please contact the Irish Refugee Council, Luke Hamilton, Legal Officer at: 085 8148743 or
  • For additional comment on issues relating to direct provision, immigration detention procedures and trafficking, please contact the Immigrant Council of Ireland, Pippa Woolnough at: 085 8353757
  • For comment on the Magdalene Laundries, please contact JFM Research at:
  • For comment on forced adoptions and the Mother and Baby Homes and similar institutions, please contact Adoption Rights Alliance at:
  • For comment on intersex genital mutilation, please contact, Daniela Truffer and Markus Bauer at: or +41 76 398 06 50
  • For additional comment on issues relating to prisons, please contact the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice, Eoin Carroll at:
  • For comment on issues relating to policing, please contact the Irish Council for Civil Liberties at:

All submissions from NGOs to the Committee are available here.

3. Ireland's second periodic review under the United Nations Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment took place at Palais Wilson, Geneva on Thurs 27 July and Friday 28 July 2017.

4. What is the OPCAT?

Ireland signed the OPCAT (Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment) on 2nd October 2007 but the Irish government has not yet ratified it.

Ratification of OPCAT would require the establishment of a National Preventative Mechanism (NPM): a national monitoring body, which has multidisciplinary expertise and which is fully independent of Government.

The NGO delegation in Geneva noted the broad understanding of “detention” now being applied by the European Court of Human Rights and other human rights bodies, encompassing situations of continuous supervision and control.

The NGO delegation called for the State to immediately initiate an open and broad consultation process to develop the National preventative Mechanism within a fixed timeframe.  This should include all places of detention – including immigration detention, direct provision, hospitals, care homes, prisons, and police stations.

For a clear explanation of the OP-CAT, see:

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



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