Irish Penal Reform Trust

Ratification of OPCAT

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:

  • Psychiatric units;
  • Juvenile detention centres;
  • Immigration detention centres;
  • Pre-trial detention facilities;
  • Garda stations.

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.

Welcome opportunity for renewed and sustained reform – IPRT congratulates Ministers on appointments

29th June 2020

The Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) has today congratulated Minister Helen McEntee TD on her appointment as Minister for Justice. IPRT is looking forward to working with the Minister on the implementation of evidence-led justice commitments in the Programme for Government.

The relationship between civil society and the NPM: UK and Ireland

26th June 2020

This webinar brought together international experts and local actors with a joint focus of sharing knowledge and practice on how to build positive relationships between civil society and National Preventative Mechanisms (NPMs) under the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT).

‘Our Shared Future’ – Draft Programme for Government 2020+

15th June 2020

IPRT strongly welcomes many of the proposals in the draft Programme for Government. In particular, we welcome that the document reflects all of the five recommendations IPRT campaigned on in advance of the 2020 General Election.

APT and ODIHR: Monitoring Places of Detention through the COVID-19 pandemic

4th June 2020

People detained prior to the pandemic have seen their rights restricted further and are exposed to greater health risks. This new practical guidance from the APT and ODIHR details how these who monitor places of detention can continue their monitoring functions during COVID-19.

UN Committee against Torture publishes list of issues prior to reporting

25th May 2020

In advance of Ireland’s third periodic hearing under the UN Convention against Torture, the Committee against Torture has requested information on a list of issues from Ireland. This was informed by submissions by civil society, including IPRT.

Human Rights and Detention in the time of COVID-19: UK and Ireland

29th April 2020

On 29th April 2020, IPRT co-hosted an international online seminar on ‘Human Rights & Detention in the time of COVID-19: UK and Ireland’.

Adapting to COVID-19: Prison Oversight and Monitoring During a Pandemic

22nd April 2020

The Network on External Prison Oversight and Human Rights has published a special issue newsletter focusing on prison oversight and monitoring during COVID-19. Experts in oversight and monitoring in places of deprivation of liberty have contributed to the issue, to share updates on how oversight roles are shifting during this pandemic.

Human Rights Law Centre (Australia): Stopping Solitary Confinement

31st March 2020

The Human Rights Law Centre (HRLC) in Australia has published 'Stopping Solitary Confinement', a submission to the Royal Commission into Violence, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability. The HRLC writes specifically about the use of solitary confinement during COVID-19.

IPRT Submission to the UN Committee against Torture: Information for List of Issues

27th January 2020

In this submission, IPRT outlines the progress made by Ireland on the 2017 Concluding Observations and further highlights a number of matters that might merit scrutiny during the next reporting cycle of the UN Committee against Torture.

IPRT Submission to the UNCAT on Ireland’s one year follow-up

23rd November 2018

The IPRT Submission to the UN Committee against Torture on Ireland’s one year follow-up to its second periodic report under UNCAT focuses on developments in respect of the ratification of OPCAT.

Law Seminar: Detention, Human Rights and the OPCAT

12th November 2018

The Irish Penal Reform Trust and the Irish Criminal Bar Association co-hosted a seminar on 'Detention, Human Rights and the OPCAT' on Monday 12th November 2018 in the Ormond Meeting Rooms.

Statement of Principles on Legislation to Ratify the OPCAT

12th November 2018

This document outlines the minimum legislative requirements for any legislation intended to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture.

Border Criminologies: HMIP Detention Monitoring Methodology

12th November 2018

Border Criminologies (University of Oxford) has published a briefing paper outlining the methodology used by HM Inspectorate of Prisons, coordinating body of the UK NPM.

OpEd: Ireland has not ratified a protocol to prevent torture in places of detention

8th August 2018

An OpEd by IPRT Executive Director Deirdre Malone in The Irish Times discusses Ireland’s failure to ratify OPCAT.

Press Release: Ratification of torture prevention treaty will bolster Ireland’s position on international stage

6th July 2018

IPRT welcomes the commitment made by the Minister for Justice and Equality today (5 July) that legislation to ratify the ‘OPCAT’ will be introduced in 2018.

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

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