IHRC: Observations on the Spent Convictions Bill 2007
30th April 2009
In its Observations on the Spent Convictions Bill 2007, the Irish Human Rights Commission considers that the 2007 Bill is in line with Ireland’s commitment to rehabilitate and re-integrate offenders back into society. However, in applying the relevant human rights law to the Bill, the IHRC identifies a number of areas of concern, namely: the proposals relating to the period of rehabilitation, the sentencing threshold and the excluded employment.
- Rehabilitation period: The IHRC
recommends that in line with the principle of proportionality and to maximise
the possibility of rehabilitation of convicted persons, the proposed
legislation should provide shorter periods of rehabilitation, proportionate to
the sentence imposed. In addition, consideration should be given to amending
the Children Act 2001 accordingly.
- Sentencing Threshold: The IHRC
recommends that in order to aid the rehabilitation of a broader range of
offenders consideration is given to extending the six month sentencing
threshold in the 2007 Bill. If the sentencing threshold is extended,
consideration could be given to establishing an application based system for serious
offences that come within the revised sentencing threshold, whereby persons
convicted of a serious offence would have to apply to a District Court judge to
have their sentences considered spent
- Excluded Employment: The
IHRC recommends that section 5(2) is reconsidered to ensure that the only
categories of employment excluded from the legislative provisions are excluded
for legitimate reasons on grounds which include the protection of national
security or public safety, the prevention of disorder or crime and the
protection of the health or rights and freedoms of others.
The IHRC also reiterates the recommendation it
made in 2005 that the grounds of discrimination in the Employment Equality Act
1998 should be extended to include discrimination on the basis of a criminal
conviction. The IHRC
recommended that this should be accompanied by a restructuring of the
vetting system, as recommended by the Data Protection Commissioner, and
that a system to expunge previous convictions after a fixed period of
time should be considered.