IPRT Submission to the National Anti-Racism Committee
14th July 2021
IPRT welcomed the opportunity to make a submission to the public consultation of the National Anti-Racism Committee (‘the Committee’) on the development of a new National Action Plan Against Racism. It was particularly appreciated by IPRT that ‘Access to Justice’ was highlighted as a priority theme for consideration in the consultation, and in the Committee’s 2020 Interim Report to the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth. This theme provides the Committee with an opportunity to address the experiences of people in prison, as one of society’s most vulnerable and marginalised groups, in the national strategic approach to combatting racism.
The IPRT submission to the Committee made the following recommendations:
- Ethnic equality monitoring must be adequately carried out across the Irish criminal justice system using the ethnic categories developed by the Central Statistics Office.
- Upon admission and throughout their period of imprisonment, migrants in prison should be given access to information, in a language they can understand, on all aspects of prison life, from their rights and duties as a prisoner to the prison regimes, services and supports.
- Actions 122-125 of the National Traveller and Roma Inclusion Strategy 2017-2021, relating to the interaction of Travellers and Roma with the criminal justice system, should be reviewed and fully implemented within a revised timeframe.
- Further research is carried out, in conjunction with the newly formed Sentencing Guidelines and Information Committee, to investigate the extent of any differences in sentencing decisions for migrant and ethnic minority groups in Ireland, and the reasons behind any such disparities.
- Consideration is given to providing anti-racism training to members of the judiciary, in collaboration with the newly established Judicial Studies Committee.
- The Department of Justice and the Irish Prison Service should ensure that the new complaints policy is rolled out with urgency so that that all complaints, particularly those relating to racial discrimination, are fairly and adequately addressed.
- The IPS should introduce a system for compiling statistics on all complaints made across the prison estate, and their outcomes, as recommended by the CPT.
The submission is brief and addresses just a few of the discrimination issues arising in the criminal justice and penal system today. Upon publication of the IHREC-funded Access to Rights for Migrants and Ethnic Minorities in the Penal System in Ireland report, IPRT will be in a better position to make evidence-based and comprehensive recommendations on how racism in Ireland’s criminal justice and penal system might be addressed. It is hoped that these recommendations will be a first step towards empowering and promoting access to justice for those people from migrant and ethnic minority backgrounds who get caught up in the criminal justice and penal system in Ireland.
Read the submission here.