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.

The Irish Times: '421 people committed to prison in 2016 on immigration-related issues'

20th July 2017

Article by Kitty Holland on holding immigration detainees alongside sentenced prisoners.

Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) Publish Report Ahead of 2nd Periodic UNCAT Review

18th July 2017

IPRT welcomes the publication of IHREC’s report in advance of the 2nd periodic review of UNCAT Ireland and the Convention against Torture. The IHREC report highlights the need for the State to ratify OPCAT which would provide a clear ‘roadmap’ and timeline for the implementation of OPCAT. Ireland signed the OPCAT in 2007 but has yet to ratify it. The ratification of OPCAT would mean strengthening the inspection and monitoring process in all places where persons are deprived of their liberty with the overall aim of protecting against ill-treatment.

UNCAT: Prisons Under the UN spotlight

6th July 2017

Ireland’s second examination under the UN Convention against Torture will take place on 27th and 28th July 2017.

IPRT: Discussion Paper on ratification of the OPCAT and the establishment of an NPM

30th January 2017

IPRT submitted a paper to the Department of Justice & Equality to inform discussions around ways to progress the ratification of OPCAT and the establishment of an NPM.

IPRT WELCOMES GOVERNMENT ACCEPTANCE OF RECOMMENDATIONS ON PRISONS AND PLACES OF DETENTION RECEIVED AT U.N.

14th May 2016

The Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT), Ireland’s leading campaign organisation for the protection against potential human rights violations behind bars, has today welcomed the Government’s acceptance of recommendations received at the U.N. in Geneva on prisons and places of detention, including reaffirmation of its commitment to ratify the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture (OP-CAT).

Strong Focus on the Rights of Adults and Children in Prisons and Places of Detention at Ireland’s 2nd UPR

13th May 2016

More than 30 countries at Ireland’s 2nd Universal Periodic Review raised concerns and made recommendations to Ireland on the human rights of adults and children in prisons and places of detention, with many explicitly calling on Ireland to finally ratify the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture.

Irish Penal Reform Trust calls on next Government to ratify key anti-torture mechanism by 2017

22nd April 2016

Ireland’s leading campaigners for the protection of human rights in detention, has today called on all representatives engaged in Government negotiations to ensure that clear commitments to safeguard against inhumane treatment in places of detention are included in the next Programme for Government.

Round-up: Securing Accountability

30th November 2015

On Friday 27th November 2015, IPRT hosted a conference entitled 'Securing Accountability - Building effective prison monitoring, inspection, and complaints systems'.

ADVISORY: Effective external oversight of prison system is crucial

28th November 2015

The Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT), Ireland’s leading penal reform organisation, held a major conference on the need for rigorous and effective external oversight of the Irish prison system on Fri 27 Nov 2015.

EUROPEAN TORTURE COMMITTEE: CONCERNS ON MENTAL HEALTH, VIOLENCE AND SOLITARY CONFINEMENT IN IRISH PRISONS

17th November 2015

The sixth report on places of detention in Ireland from the CPT, published today (Tuesday 17th November 2015) presents another indictment of a prison system that is struggling to meet its duty of care in terms of healthcare, mental health care, and ensuring prisoner safety.

Failures in accountability structures in Irish prisons “extremely disturbing” – IPRT

9th October 2014

The Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) is gravely concerned that the Inspector of Prisons is unable to rely on the veracity of official prison records when investigating a death within prison walls.

Did you know that Ireland hasn't met its commitment to ratify OPCAT?

26th June 2014

Today, the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, IPRT is highlighting that the Government still hasn't met its commitment to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT).

IPRT welcomes new laws strengthening internal Prisoner Complaints system, but need for independent complaints mechanism remains

22nd January 2013

The Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) strongly welcomes amendments to the Prison Rules 2007, and the recruitment of 22 external investigators, which together bring a level of independence to prisoner complaints systems in Ireland for the first time. However, this must be matched by similar reform of existing monitoring structures, and the establishment of a fully independent oversight mechanism.

IPRT Position Paper 7: Complaints, Monitoring and Inspection in Prisons

5th November 2009

A Position Paper setting out the main issues relating to the monitoring and inspection of places of detention, and the need for independent external mechanisms for review of prisoners' complaints.

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

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