The Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture (OPCAT) is an international human rights treaty which assists States in preventing torture and other forms of ill-treatment in places of detention.
Ireland signed OPCAT in October 2007, but almost a decade on it is yet to ratify it.
The Optional Protocol (OPCAT) was agreed by the UN General Assembly in 2002, introducing a combined system of national and international monitoring of places of detention with a view to preventing ill-treatment.
Places of detention are not limited to prisons. OPCAT applies to anywhere where people are deprived of their liberty. Examples of places of detention include, but are not limited to:
Accountability in places of detention is crucial. Monitoring and inspection, along with an effective independent complaints mechanism for detainees, are central to the protection of human rights and form part of Ireland’s obligations under international law.
The aim of OPCAT is to strengthen the protection of persons deprived of their liberty. IPRT supports this goal and believes that independent monitoring under OPCAT will serve to strengthen a culture of human rights within Irish detention facilities.
For more information on OPCAT, click here.
11th December 2023
IPRT contributed to the high-level international conference hosted by the Office of Inspector of Prisons (OIP) titled The Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture: Developing a Criminal Justice National Preventive Mechanism in Ireland.
14th March 2023
IPRT welcomes the publication of the Joint Committee on Justice’s Report on the topic of ‘Pre-Legislative Scrutiny of the General Scheme of the Inspection of Places of Detention Bill 2022 published on 8 March 2023.
14th December 2022
IPRT's Legal and Public Affairs Manager and Deputy Director, Molly Joyce, writes for the PILA Ireland news bulletin: A Review of the General Scheme of the Inspection of Places of Detention Bill. The bill will provide the mechanism by which the Government will finally ratify the UN Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT).
5th August 2022
In total, the IPRT submission makes 36 recommendations on the Draft General Scheme of the Bill.
27th July 2022
MEDIA RELEASE: IPRT welcomed the clear focus by the UN Human Rights Committee on issues pertaining to people deprived of their liberty including prison overcrowding, access to adequate mental healthcare, the failure to publish reports relating to the Dóchas Centre, the overrepresentation of Travellers in the penal system and the need to ratify OPCAT.
15th July 2022
Following the third cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Ireland, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has written to the Minister for Foreign Affairs in order to highlight areas requiring “particular attention” before Ireland’s fourth UPR cycle.
3rd July 2022
MEDIA RELEASE: IPRT will ask the UN Human Rights Committee to question State officials on how Ireland is meeting its human rights obligations to people in prison, as part of the State’s fifth review under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
24th June 2022
IPRT statement on the publication of the General Scheme of the Inspection of Places of Detention Bill by the Minister for Justice on 24 June 2022.
30th May 2022
IPRT welcomed the opportunity to provide this alternative report to the UN Human Rights Committee on Ireland’s fifth review under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
28th March 2022
Minister for Justice Helen McEntee TD has published Justice Plan 2022, outlining 159 actions to continue building a justice system that works for everyone.
12th November 2021
IPRT summarises the recommendations relating to the work of IPRT made by States during the review, following the adoption and publication of the Draft Report on Friday 12th November.
10th November 2021
PRESS NOTICE: Ireland’s human rights record, including its failure to ratify international human rights treaties and its treatment of people in prison, will be examined by the UN Human Rights Council Working Group as part of Ireland’s third Universal Period Review (UPR) from 13.30 today.
7th October 2021
IPRT was one of the civil society organisations chosen to make a statement at the pre-session meeting of Ireland’s UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on 7th October 2021.
12th August 2021
The Mid-Year Progress Report on Justice Plan 2021 was published in August, and details the progress made so far to achieve 5 goals - or 240 actions - identified in the Justice Action Plan 2021 published earlier this year.
24th June 2021
The Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (SPT) has published new advice to States parties and national preventive mechanisms relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.