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.

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.

Report on Penal Reform and Sentencing

10th May 2018

Many of the issues raised by IPRT during our hearing before the Committee are included in the Joint Committee on Justice and Equality report on Penal Reform and Sentencing.

Press Release: IPRT welcomes the appointment of new Inspector of Prisons

4th April 2018

Patricia Gilheaney has been announced as the new Inspector of Prisons, effective from 7 May 2018.

Immigration Detention: Nasc Report Reveals Flaws in Ireland's Immigration System

13th March 2018

Nasc has launched a new report on Tuesday 13th March 2018, ahead of plans for a new immigration detention centre in Dublin Airport.

Oireachtas Seminar: PIPS and OPCAT

13th December 2017

Senator Ivana Bacik hosted IPRT for an All Party Penal Reform Group Briefing Seminar Wednesday 13th December 2017.

UN Committee against Torture publishes Concluding Observations on Ireland

11th August 2017

IPRT welcomes the Concluding Observations released by the UN Committee against Torture on Ireland's second periodic review under the UN Convention against Torture.

UNCAT: Summary record of second periodic review of Ireland

7th August 2017

A record of Ireland's hearing under the UNCAT, which took place in Palais Wilson, Geneva on Thurs 27 July and Fri 28 July 2017.

Press Release: UN Torture Committee puts tough questions on prison issues to Irish Government

27th July 2017

The UN Committee on Torture questions Ireland about its efforts to ensure that the rights of everyone in the penal system are respected and on progress on various issues of concern.

IPRT Submission to the UNCAT in advance of the Second Periodic Review of Ireland

24th July 2017

IPRT made a Submission to the United Nations Committee against Torture in advance of the Second Periodic Review of Ireland under the United Nations Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in June 2017.

The Irish Examiner: UN body told of failings in the oversight of Irish prisons

21st July 2017

An article by Cormac O’Keeffe in The Irish Examiner on how the United Nations Committee against Torture (UNCAT) has been told of failings in oversight, in the investigation of complaints, of ill treatment and of concerns about prison healthcare in Irish prisons.

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.

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

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