Two Funded Doctoral Scholarships Offered by the School of Law at NUI Galway: Human Rights and Constitutional Law

NUIGThe School of Law at NUI Galway is currently accepting applications for two Doctoral Scholarships. Applications are sought from students who intend to pursue doctoral-level research on topics related to either: (a) European Human Rights, and/or (b) Constitutional Law

Applications are particularly encouraged from but not confined to those interested in any of the following areas: the domestic application of international human rights law; the role of the Ombudsman in the area of human rights; public interest litigation and public interest law; processes of constitutional reform; or the right to equality.

The successful students will be supervised by Professor Donncha O’Connell, Head of the School of Law. These Scholarships will commence before the end of 2014 and are available for a period of four years, subject to satisfactory performance.

Scholarships comprise an annual stipend of €16,000 inclusive of University tuition fees (accordingly a student receives a tax-free scholarship of approximately €11,755 per annum).

The holder of a Scholarship is expected to reside in Galway, Ireland and, under the guidance of Professor O’Connell, will engage in a reasonable amount of research and research support, teaching and administrative tasks in the School of Law, NUI Galway, in addition to pursuing his or her own doctoral research.

Those interested in applying should submit the following:

  • A covering letter
  • A curriculum vitae
  • Two letters of reference from academics familiar with the work of the

    applicant

  • A statement of the proposed doctoral research topic (1,000 words).

    These materials must be sent to donncha.oconnell@nuigalway.ie by 5pm on 30th September , 2014.

    Award of a scholarship will be conditional on admission by the University.
    For further information on the School of Law, NUI Galway: http://www.nuigalway.ie/law/ 

Two Funded Doctoral Scholarships Offered by the School of Law at NUI Galway: Human Rights and Constitutional Law

International Day in Support of Victims of Torture: Forced Psychiatric Treatment

UNToday is International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. The 26th of June has been International Day in Support of Victims of Torture since declared so by the UN General Assembly in 1997 by resolution 52/149. The rationale for International Day in Support of Victims of Torture is to promote the total abolition of torture. For more information on International Day in Support of Victims of Torture see here. In this blog post I consider the evolving idea that forced psychiatric treatment may amount to inhuman and degrading treatment and in some circumstances torture in violation of international human rights law.

The consideration of the human rights of persons involuntarily detained in psychiatric hospitals is an issue that has attracted increased attention over the past number of decades.  The focus has been on ensuring adequate due process rights surrounding the deprivation of liberty. In that regard the case law that has emanated from the European Court of Human Rights has been very important in requiring state parties such as Ireland to amend legislation to provide adequate safeguards.

The existing human rights discourse has not considered forced psychiatric treatment as a form of torture or inhuman and degrading treatment. However, the human rights discourse has moved beyond merely requiring State Parties to provide for due process rights for persons involuntarily detained in psychiatric hospitals and other institutions. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) concluded in 2006 is a significant development.

The CRPD deals with the right to liberty of persons with disabilities in a number of different articles; the most important of which is Articles 14 (the right to liberty). Article 14 reiterates the general right to liberty, which cannot be removed unlawfully or arbitrarily adding to the existing body of international human rights law that “disability shall in no case justify a deprivation of liberty”.   Article 15 of the CRPD provides for freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of persons with disabilities and Article 17 of the CRPD provides for the right to physical and mental integrity of the persons with a disability. There is a requirement that this right be respected “on an equal basis with others”. The CRPD Committee have expressed concern around consent within health and mental health services.

The UN Special Rapporteur has also expressed concerns about the consent of persons with mental health problems to treatment and has emphasised the right to mental and physical integrity of persons with disabilities.[1] In an interim report of July 2008, the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment devoted considerable attention to the matter of protecting persons with disabilities from torture.  Similarly, an interim report in 2011 from the Special Rapporteur on torture considered the protection of PWDs from abuse and exploitation. In a subsequent Report published in 2013 the Special Rapporteur on Torture added to the existing understanding of international human rights law in establishing that it is unacceptable for laws to permit doctors to enforce mental health treatment on people when that person refuses treatment.

There is confusion around some of the Special Rapporteur’s comments. See an excellent discussion of this confusion in a blog post by Dr Lucy Series here. However, it is of note that the Rapporteur acknowledges the tensions between the CRPD and exciting sources of international human rights law. Perhaps one of the most important implications of the Rapporteur’s comments is the recognition of the CRPD in informing his work and that treatment without consent can be viewed as inhuman degrading treatment and in some circumstances torture.

Mental health laws throughout the world legitimise the involuntary detention and forced treatment of persons considered to have mental health problems. The comments of the Special Rapporteur and the evolving meaning of the rights contained in the CRPD require critical consideration of laws and practice that impose coercive forced treatment. The human rights discourse will increasingly analyse forced treatment through the prism of inhuman and degrading treatment and torture. In Ireland the Mental Health Act 2001 provides for psychiatrists to forcibly treat persons subject to involuntary detention without their consent. These provisions are currently being reviewed by the Department of Health who published an interim report on its review of the Mental Health Act 2001 in 2012. Sections 59and 60of the Mental Health Act 2001permits electro-convulsive therapy or medication to be forcibly imposed an involuntary patient where the patient is considered to be “unable or unwilling to give consent”. Read Amnesty International Ireland’s Review of the Mental Health Act 2001 here. Current Irish legislation raises significant human rights issues where the legal capacity of the person is being denied. It is clear from the 2012 Interim Review that there is recognition to amend the 2001 Act to better respect the autonomy and choice of persons subject to the involuntary detention.

[1]See Mendez “Interim report of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” (United Nations: UN doc A/66/268, 5 August 2011) and Mendez Report of the Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment”(United Nations: UN doc A/HRC/22/53, 1 February 2013).

International Day in Support of Victims of Torture: Forced Psychiatric Treatment

The Need for Effective Diversion: The Report into the Death of Gary Douch

orig-7885841The recently published Report into the death of Gary Douch examined the circumstances behind his death in Mountjoy prison in 2006.  The 4 volumes of the Report are available here.  Gary Douch was killed by a Stephen Egan, a prisoner who was identified as being “troublesome and disruptive” and was well known throughout the Irish prison system as a “management problem”.  Stephen Egan had mental health problems and was moved frequently between different prisons and the Central Mental Hospital in the months leading up to the death of Gary Douch.  The Report highlights many deficiencies within the prison system in Ireland.  These deficiencies include but are not limited to overcrowding, poor record keeping, lack of risk assessments, poor provision of mental health services and poor communication and information sharing.  These failures resulted in the death of Gary Douch, which was a failure on the part of the state to protect Gary Douch’s right to life as required under the constitution and Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Notwithstanding the significant delays in delivering the Report it is hugely important in highlighting the failure to develop effective law and policy in Ireland to respond to the needs of prisoners with serious mental health problems.  Stephen Egan was subsequently prosecuted for the death of Gary Douch; he successfully raised the partial defence of diminished responsibility.  From reading the Report it is abundantly clear that the Irish Prison Service failed Gary Douch and his family.   It is also evident from reading the Report that the Irish Prison Service and the mental health services failed Stephen Egan, a view that is supported with reference the failure in this jurisdiction to make adequate provision for mentally ill prisoners.  This post will focus on the state’s failure to make adequate provision for mentally ill prisoners.

Since the 1970s the deinstitutionalisation movement (closure of large psychiatric institutions) throughout the world has corresponded with an increase in the number of persons with mental health problems in prisons.  This is the case in Ireland where persons with mental health problems are significantly over-represented in the prison population compared to the general population.  This over-representation is a significant public policy problem, which numerous countries have sought to address through the development of specific laws and policies.

Diversion has emerged as one of the main responses, a policy which involves diverting persons with mental health problems from the criminal justice system to mental health services in hospitals or in the community.  However, Ireland unlike other jurisdictions has failed to meaningfully develop diversion.  This failure has been recognised for many decades.  The Report of the Henchy Committee in 1978 identified that Ireland was out of step in comparison with other jurisdictions, in not providing powers to the courts to connect persons with mental health problems to mental health services.  The Committee’s recommendations, which were progressive for their time, remain unimplemented and serious defects persist as catalogued in the Gary Douch Report.

A difficulty is that diversion is narrowly understood in Ireland as meaning transfer of seriously mentally ill prisoners to the Central Mental Hospital (in Dundrum) or in reach schemes such as the one operated at Cloverhill (a remand prison).   This narrow understanding of diversion blinkers policy makers from the potential of developing diversion at different points of the criminal justice system (EG diversion in the community, following arrest, before the trial, at court and following conviction).  The Gary Douch Report acknowledges the potential of diversion and recommends developing diversion beyond the narrow and restrictive opportunities currently available.

The Department of Health in its “White Paper: A New Mental Health Act” (1995) noted that Ireland was “unusual among European Countries” in not providing for diversion.  As such it was recommended that the courts be given powers of referral to general psychiatric services.  However, these proposals never made their way into the what was to become the Mental Health Act 2001.  While it is unclear why these proposals were not enacted it is of note that psychiatrists opposed the provision of such powers.  Psychiatrists feared that the presence of defendants and offenders in general psychiatric services would undermine the recovery ethos of mental health services.

The Irish courts have been ineffective when called upon to intercede on behalf of prisoners, in circumstances where the state has failed to provide adequate services for both mental and physical health.  Beyond protecting narrow procedural and due process issues the courts have not taken opportunities to vindicate rights of prisoners with mental health problems.  As such there is an obvious need to generate political support and commitment for reform.  However, there are many barriers to implementing the reforms envisaged in the Gary Douch Report.  These barriers include vested professional agendas, scarcity of resources and the reality that prisoners are not a high policy priority.

In recent years there has been focus on reform and modernisation of mental health services and amending the Mental Health Act 2001.  The 2001 Act regulates the involuntary detention of persons with mental health problems (persons subject to the Act are generally not involved in the criminal justice system).  The human rights of persons with mental health problems who have not committed crimes are vindicated more robustly, in contrast to a weak pursuit of the human rights of persons in contact with the criminal justice system.   The Review of the Mental Health Act 2001 has attracted animated discourse and seen a real willingness on the part of the Department of Health to engage with stakeholders who advocate a robust human rights approach to reform of the 2001 Act.  It is of note that the Department of Justice are reviewing the Criminal Law (Insanity) Act 2006.  However, this review process has not attracted much attention with little discussion of using the review to address the many deficits with the treatment of mentally ill prisoners.  It is of note that Irish NGOs working in the area of mental health (with the exception of the Irish Penal Reform Trust) have not advocated meaningfully for the diversion of defendants and offenders with mental health problems.  Without a powerful lobby the “grave defects” identified by the Henchy Committee in 1978 will no doubt continue.

The failure to develop diversion has certainly resulted in human rights abuses of prisoners with mental health problems.  Tragically this failure forms part of the explanation of why Gary Douch died.  The Gary Douch Report noted that his family hopes that the legacy of his tragic death is that reform “will make a difference and help to save some other family the grief and distress they have suffered”.  It remains to be seen whether the recommendations in the Report will bring about the much-needed reforms.  Given the decades of inertia and neglect of prisoners with mental health problems it seems unlikely that the reforms proposed will be implemented in the foreseeable future.

Charles O’Mahony completed a Ph.D in 2013 entitled “Diversion: A Comparative Study of Law and Policy Relating to Defendants and Offenders with Mental Health Problems and Intellectual Disability” at the Centre for Disability Law and Policy, School of Law, NUI Galway. 

The Need for Effective Diversion: The Report into the Death of Gary Douch

Law Society's 10th Annual Human Rights Lecture, 13th June, 2014

The Right Hon the Baroness Hale of Richmond, Deputy President of the UK Supreme Court, will deliver the Law Society’s Annual Human Rights Lecture this year. The Lecture will take place on Friday, 13th June, at 6pm in the President’s Hall of the Law Society, Blackhall Place, Dublin 7.  

The title of this year’s Lecture is ‘Freedom of Religion and Belief’.

Lady Hale became the United Kingdom’s first woman Lord of Appeal in Ordinary in January 2004, after a varied career as an academic lawyer, law reformer and judge. Lady Hale is the first woman Justice of the UK Supreme Court having been appointed in October 2009, and was appointed Deputy President of the UK Supreme Court in June 2013, succeeding Lord Hope of Craighead.

The Human Rights Committee is honoured to have Lady Hale deliver the 10th Annual Human Rights Lecture on such an important topic, and would welcome your attendance at the event.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Law Society’s Human Rights Committee Annual Lecture series. Through the Lecture Series, the Human Rights Committee aims to promote awareness of human rights law and practice among both lawyers and the public, and also to encourage consideration of how human rights can be promoted and protected.

There is no registration fee for this event and 1 CPD Hour (by Group Study) is available. All attendees are invited to a wine reception, which will follow the lecture.

For further details and to book a place for this event, please visit the Law Society’s website here.

Law Society's 10th Annual Human Rights Lecture, 13th June, 2014

LL.M in Public Law Inviting Applications for Class of 2014/2015

clocktowerThe School of Law at NUI Galway is inviting application for its LL.M in Public Law.  The LL.M in Public Law began in 2005 and is now a well-established and well-regarded programme that provides unique opportunities for graduates to develop a wide range of skills, including advanced legal research and writing skills, which will position them strongly for a variety of law, regulation and policy-oriented careers. The programme is designed for graduates who wish to work in the field of Public Law with government and non-governmental organisations at national and international level, or in private practice. It is also designed to accommodate legal practitioners, public servants and others in full- time employment who wish to develop or update their legal research skills and to enhance their knowledge of public law.

Why study public law?

The programme provides a solid grounding in the theory, substance and application of Public Law for future practitioners, academics and policy-makers. The programme is designed around two main themes: “the dynamics of law and social change” and “contemporary challenges in public law” and gives students a keen understanding of the most fertile areas and current issues for public interest litigation, in both the state and private sectors.

Internships for LL.M in Public Law Students

Every year one or two students from the LL.M in Public Law are funded to take up summer internships with international NGOs specialising in public law. The scholarships are open to all students enrolled on the LL.M in Public Law and are awarded on the basis of an application and interview. Previous recipients of the scholarships have been placed with the Mental Disability Advocacy Centre in Budapest and JUSTICE in London. In summer 2013, Caitriona de Paor carried out research for Judge Matti Twomey, both pictured below, of the Court of Appeal in Seychelles and spent two weeks in Seychelles with her attending court and a session of the committee revising the Civil Code.

Other students in the class have undertaken internships with the Courts Service, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, PILA, FLAC and solicitors firms.

Career Opportunities

The LL.M in Public Law will be particularly useful to students who wish to pursue a career in the public service (whether nationally or internationally). It will also be of benefit to students who wish to pursue legal careers in private practice aimed at advancing the ‘public interest’ and those who want to progress to doctoral research. Former graduates have secured positions in the Law Reform Commission, Attorney General’s office, Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Judges’ Library, leading law firms and Ph.D programmes in Ireland, the UK, Europe and the US.

Funded Ph.D Opportunities and the LL.M in Public Law

Every year a number of graduates of the LL.M in Public Law have been successful in securing funding to pursue Ph.D research in Ireland and in other jurisdictions. Students on the LL.M in Public Law use the year to identify topics for doctoral research. Matti Twomey (Class of 2011) was awarded a Hardiman scholarship and in 2013 an Irish Research Council (IRC) scholarship to support her doctoral research. Priscilla Fay (class of 2012) and Deirdre Halloran (Class of 2013) were also recipients of IRC scholarships in 2013. Other recent recipients of funding for doctoral research include:

  • Rónán Ó Fathaigh, Ph.D Candidate, Universiteit Gent, Belgium (Class of 2011)
  • Sarah McDonald, Ph.D Candidate, Dublin City University (Formerly Executive to the Human Rights Committee of the Incorporated Law Society of Ireland) (Class of 2011)
  • Fiona Morrissey, NUI Travelling Scholar, Ph.D Candidate, School of Law, NUI Galway (Class of 2009)
  • Nora Ní Loideaín, PhD Candidate, CHESS Scholar, Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge (Class of 2007)

Graduates of the LL.M in Public Law who have completed their Ph.D are working throughout the world.

  • Dr Ciara Staunton, Researcher, Centre for Medical Ethics and Law, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, South Africa (Ph.D funded by IRC scholarship)
  • Dr James Jeffers, Lecturer, School of Society, Enterprise and Environment, Bath Spa University (Ph.D funded by a fellowship from Rutgers University)
  • Dr Sharon McLaughlin, Lecturer in Law, Letterkenny Institute of Technology, Co. Donegal (Ph.D funded by IRC scholarship)
  • Dr Charles O’Mahony, Lecturer, School of Law, NUI Galway (Ph.D funded by PRTLI scholarship)

NUI Galway Scholarship for 
Full-Time Taught Masters Students

If you have been awarded first class honours in your law degree you may be eligible to apply for a NUI Galway Scholarship for 
Full-Time Taught Masters Students worth €1,500.  For more information see here.

For more information on the LL.M in Public Law see here for the programme brochure The brochure also includes testimonials from graduates of the LL.M in Public Law.  Applications should be made through PAC.

LL.M in Public Law Inviting Applications for Class of 2014/2015

Is Corporation Tax A Human Rights Issue?

screen-shot-2014-04-03-at-16-30-53We are delighted to welcome the latest in a series of cross-posts by Dr Shane Darcy from the Business and Human Rights in Ireland Blog. The Business and Human Rights in Ireland Blog is dedicated to tracking and analysing developments relating to business and human rights in Ireland. It aims to address legal and policy issues, as well as highlighting human rights concerns raised by the activities of Irish companies or multinational corporations based in Ireland. The blog is run by Dr Shane Darcy who is a lecturer at the Irish Centre for Human Rights, National University of Ireland Galway.

Hardly a week goes by without the subject of Ireland’s corporation tax being in the news. At the beginning of March this year, it was reported that Apple enjoyed an even lower corporation tax rate than Ireland’s already low rate of 12.5%. The Irish Times headline put it bluntly: ‘Apple paid $36m tax on $7.11bn profits at Irish unit’. Ireland’s corporation tax regime has also made international headlines; in September 2013 the Financial Times ran a lead story regarding an EU probe into “corporate tax sweeteners” by several countries, including Ireland. Although it might not appear so at first glance, low corporation tax rates and tax avoidance by companies can have a significant impact on a States’ ability to fulfill its human rights obligations.

The past few years has seen increased attention being paid, including at the highest political levels, to tax havens, secrecy jurisdictions and aggressive tax avoidance by individuals and multinational companies (see the excellent book Treasure Islands by Nicholas Shaxson). The EU are looking into various tax practices, while the G8 and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development have committed to tackling certain aspects of tax abuse.

With regards to the mechanics of tax abuse, large companies have engaged in profit shifting to low tax jurisdictions, such as Ireland, through means such as “transfer pricing” or royalty payments for intellectual property rights. Ireland does not deny its low corporation tax rate, but the Government has been at pains to challenge any claims that this is a tax haven or that it has offered lower than publicised rates to multinationals. There is, according to Nicholas Shaxson, a “a veritable industry of tax haven deniers” in Ireland. The latest salvo has come in a technical paper from the Department of Finance which claims an effective corporation tax rate of over just 10%, perhaps in response to the publicity given to Jim Stewart’s showing of a 2.2% effective rate in the case of some United States subsidiaries. The federal corporate tax rate in the United States is 35%.

In addition to these technical examinations of tax issues, various civil society organisations have been researching and analysing how tax activities can impact on human rights and development. The Human Rights Institute of the International Bar Association, for example, convened a Task Force on Illicit Financial Flows, Poverty and Human Rights. Its comprehensive 2013 report concluded that “tax abuses have considerable negative impacts on the enjoyment of human rights”. The principal issue is one of resources, with the vast sums that are diverted into private wealth denying governments the ability to meet their human rights obligations. The Task Force explained that practices such as profit-shifting, tax incentives and the use of secrecy jurisdictions:

deprive governments of the resources required to provide the programmes that give effect to economic, social and cultural rights, and to create and strengthen the institutions that uphold civil and political rights.

The problem is particularly pernicious in developing countries, where the non-payment of taxes, and other illicit financial flows, seriously damage poor States’ ability to live up to human rights. Similar studies have been carried out by Global Witness, Oxfam, ActionAid, and the Tax Justice Network – the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre usefully gathers all this work together here. The United Nations have appointed an Independent Expert, Cephas Lumina, to examine the impact of illicit financial flows on human rights (see his his 2013 Interim Report).

The issue remains a live one in Ireland, with each budget seeing a new round of cuts to services and little or no change to tax rates. In 2012, Colette Brown of the Irish Examiner reported the findings of the Tax Justice Network that revenue lost in the “shadow economy” of tax evasion amounts to €7.6bn each year. She noted that this was “equivalent to the total amount of cutbacks and tax increases that the Government is planning to inflict on the country over the next three years”.

In 2011, following an invitation from the Irish Government, the then United Nations Independent Expert on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, Magdalena Sepúlveda Carmona, conducted a country visit to Ireland. In her report, she expressed concern at the “low level of taxation” in Ireland, which is amongst the lowest in Europe, and commented on how the Irish government has pursued cuts in public expenditure mainly rather than increasing taxes. The report states that:

Low levels of domestic taxation revenue can be a major obstacle to a State’s ability to meet obligations to realize economic, social and cultural rights. […] seeking to achieve adjustments primarily through expenditure cuts rather than tax increases might have a major impact on the most vulnerable segments of society. Reductions in public expenditure affect the poorest and most vulnerable with the most severity, whereas some increase in taxation rates could place the burden on those who are better equipped to cope. […] By increasing its tax take, Ireland would decrease the need for cuts to public services and social protection, and thereby help to protect the most vulnerable from further damage.

Oxfam has focused recently on the role that tax pays in increasing inequality, calling on the British Government to start “clamping down on companies and individuals who avoid paying their fair share of tax”. If one takes a global perspective, it can be seen that the impact of a country’s approach to tax can have an effect on human rights in other countries also. In the case of Ireland’s approach to corporation tax, a thorough study by Dr Sheila Killian notes that

Ireland’s tax system can be abused by multinational firms to reduce their worldwide tax, and in the process to impoverish the revenue authorities of Southern countries.

It will be an uphill struggle to persuade the Irish Government to rethink its approach to corporation tax, given its centrality to the attraction of foreign direct investment. In response to some of the recent tax scandals, the Government claims to have “closed a legal loophole that allowed Irish registered companies to be stateless for tax residency purposes”. This does not go as far as proposals from the OECD, whereby tax would be paid not where a company is based, but rather where economic activity takes place. The Irish Times carried the following warning regarding these proposals:

If implemented, the consequences of the proposals for Ireland, both in lost tax revenue and lost employment, would be considerable and Ireland’s appeal as a base for foreign direct investment, a key driver of economic growth, would be greatly diminished.

Business is also concerned. Chartered Accountants Ireland has said that the OECD plans will “fundamentally change the business model for companies based in Ireland”, and that they need to be challenged “before they become concrete to the detriment of Irish business and Irish taxpayers generally.” Appeals to competitiveness are insufficient, however, in the face of the detriment to human rights caused by tax policies and strategies pursued by Ireland, by other low or no tax jurisdictions and by many of the world’s largest multinationals.

Is Corporation Tax A Human Rights Issue?

The Irish Centre for Human Rights at the School of Law at NUI Galway is pleased to announce the details of its summer schools for 2014

0614_irish_centre_for_human_rights-1

The International Criminal Court Summer School 2014
16-20 June 2014, NUI Galway, Ireland

The annual International Criminal Court summer school at the Irish Centre for Human Rights is the premiere summer school specializing on the International Criminal Court. The summer school allows participants the opportunity to attend a series of intensive lectures over five days. The lectures are given by leading academics on the subject and by legal professionals working at the International Criminal Court. The summer school is attended by legal professionals, academics, postgraduate students and NGOs. Participants are provided with a detailed working knowledge of the establishment of the Court, its structures and operations, and the applicable law. Participants are also given the opportunity to network with the speakers throughout the week. Lectures also speak to related issues in international criminal law, including: genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, the crime of aggression, universal jurisdiction, immunities, and the role of victims. We are delighted to announce that this year we will have a lecture on Africa and the ICC.
This year’s list of speakers is:

  • Professor William Schabas- Irish Centre for Human Rights, School of Law, NUI Galway and School of Law, Middlesex University
  • Dr. Fabricio Guariglia- Appeals Division of the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court
  • Dr. Mohamed M. El Zeidy- Pre-Trial Chamber II at the International Criminal Court
  • Dr. Rod Rastan- Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court
  • Professor Ray Murphy- Irish Centre for Human Rights, School of Law, NUI Galway
  • Dr. Noelle Higgins- Irish Centre for Human Rights, School of Law, NUI Galway
  • Dr. Shane Darcy, Irish Centre for Human Rights, NUI Galway
  • Dr. Nadia Bernaz- School of Law, Middlesex University
  • Mr. John McManus- Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Section, Canadian Department of Justice
  • Professor Megan A. Fairlie- Florida International University
  • Dr. Mohamed Badar- Northumbria University School of Law, United Kingdom
  • Professor Donald M. Ferencz- School of Law, Middlesex University
  • Dr. Kwadwo Appiagyei Atua- University of Ghana and University of Lincoln.

For more information on the Summer School and to register please visit our website at http://www.conference.ie/Conferences/index.asp?Conference=351 or email iccsummerschool@gmail.com.

9th Summer School in Cinema, Human Rights and Advocacy
26 June – 5 July 2014, NUI Galway, Ireland

This Summer School programme has for the last 8 years attracted young talented filmmakers and professionals from across the world who wish to engage in an exciting training course where ideas and projects are shared, developed and challenged by fellow participants and internationally acclaimed experts of film, television, photography and human rights. This year’s programme will also feature Films That Matters, a two days film event held in collaboration with Amnesty International and Galway One World Centre on 4th and 5th July 2014.

Cinema and Human Rights and Advocacy (CHRA) is a training initiative offered by the Huston School of Film & Digital Media and the Irish Centre for Human Rights, part of the National University of Ireland, Galway and supported by the Open Society Foundations. This, the 9th Summer School in Cinema, Human Rights and Advocacy will run at the Huston School of Film & Digital Media in Galway from 26th June to 5th July 2014.

The Summer School is led by Nick Danziger an internationally renowned practitioner in the field of human rights documentary making. The 10-day programme consists of eight teaching sessions, workshops and film screenings that combine human rights expertise and media studies. Sessions develop issues relating to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a History of Human Rights Cinema, Freedom of Expression and Censorship, the Use of Video in Human Rights Documentation and Advocacy, Producing Social

Documentaries, the Role of Media in Period of Conflict and Production and Distribution of Human Rights Films. Each module is illustrated by film or documentary screenings. Elements of the summer school include information on the fundamentals of human rights, how to raise awareness of human rights on camera, developing a project proposal and how these ideas should be pitched.

Deadline for application is 25th April 2014.
For more information please visit www.chra.ie or email to info@chra.ie.
You can also follow our FB page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Summer-School-in-Cinema-Human-Rights-and-Advocacy/128962737217375

The Irish Centre for Human Rights at the School of Law at NUI Galway is pleased to announce the details of its summer schools for 2014

Business and Human Rights In Ireland’s Foreign Policy Review

screen-shot-2014-02-18-at-07-22-53We are delighted to welcome the latest in a series of cross-posts by Dr Shane Darcy from the Business and Human Rights in Ireland Blog. The Business and Human Rights in Ireland Blog is dedicated to tracking and analysing developments relating to business and human rights in Ireland. It aims to address legal and policy issues, as well as highlighting human rights concerns raised by the activities of Irish companies or multinational corporations based in Ireland. The blog is run by Dr Shane Darcy who is a lecturer at the Irish Centre for Human Rights, National University of Ireland Galway.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is currently undertaking a review of Irish foreign policy and has welcomed submissions from the public, including civil society. Business and human rights has featured prominently in several of these submissions and gives an indication of the importance of this issue in the context of foreign affairs. This post provides a short summary of some of the key points made in the various submissions.
Dóchas, the Association of Irish Non-Governmental Development Organisations made some valuable observations in its submission on the need for policy coherence in this context:

In the area of trade, for instance, this should mean Irish companies and individuals (and the State supporting them) adhering to international law and human rights conventions, norms and standards, and best practice international standards for business as a matter of course, but also to EU and Irish commitments, including to policy coherence for development.
The foreign policy review should result in Ireland establishing a timeline for the development of the National Action Plan to implement the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. This plan should include requirements for human rights due diligence by business entities in circumstances where it is deemed appropriate, including many developing country contexts.

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions similarly addressed the Irish Government’s failures regarding the United Nations Guiding Principles:

Ireland has not adequately addressed its responsibilities outlined in the United Nations Framework and Guiding Principles on business and human rights. The framework emphasises a State’s duty to protect human rights, a corporate responsibility to respect human rights and the need to provide remedies where violations by business entities occur. The Government has yet to issue a comprehensive policy document on business and human rights and should immediately initiate such a process.

Congress also proposed much-needed improvements to the National Contact Point system under the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, while also urging the Government to live up to its commitments regarding collective bargaining.
In its Public Consultation Document, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade does not make any reference to business and human rights. It refers to Irish embassies responding to “the needs of business”, and considers that “the promotion of trade, tourism and investment are essential functions of our foreign relations”. The promotion of human rights is, however, a “core element” of Irish foreign policy. And as Trócaire observed in its submission, “the foreign policy review needs to recognise the intrinsic links between these two areas through developing a human rights approach to our trade promotion work”. Trócaire also noted that the Irish Government has yet to develop a national action plan for the United Nations Guiding Principles on business and human rights. This UN initiative was also referenced in the submissions of Christian Aid Ireland, Gorta and Self Help Africa, and the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

screen-shot-2014-02-18-at-09-58-05The Galway Platform on Human Rights in Irish Foreign Policy identified business and human rights as a cross-cutting area that could be considered as a priority area for the Irish Government. Readers will recall the recent debacle concerning Ireland’s trade mission to the Gulf, and following which Minister Bruton rebuked those who suggested human rights issues should have been addressed in the context of trade. Clearly much work needs to be done to ensure that human rights remains at the heart of all aspects of Irish foreign policy, including the promotion of business and trade. The ongoing Irish foreign policy review provides an opportunity to do just that.

Business and Human Rights In Ireland’s Foreign Policy Review

New Ombudsman to Deliver First Public Lecture in NUI Galway

TyndallMDHHowlinThe newly-appointed Ombudsman and Information Commissioner, Peter Tyndall, will deliver his first public lecture since taking up office in NUI Galway on Wednesday 19th February. The lecture, which will take place at 8pm in the Aula Maxima (lower), will be hosted by the School of Law to mark the first ten years of its LL.M in Public Law. It will be chaired by the former Supreme Court judge, Mrs. Justice Catherine McGuinness, Chairperson of Udarás na hOllscoile and Adjunct Professor of Law at NUIG, who has been assocated with the LL.M in Public Law since its inception. The title of Mr. Tyndall’s lecture will be: “The Ombudsman and Information Commissioner: Delivering Fairness and Transparency”. Members of the public are welcome to attend this event. Peter Tyndall was Public Services Ombudsman for Wales since 2008 dealing with complaints concerning public organisations responsible for delivering services devolved to the Welsh Government including Health, Social Care, Housing and Local Government. He worked to modernise that office to provide prompt and effective resolution of complaints and to drive improvement in public services. Prior to becoming Ombudsman for Wales, Mr. Tyndall was the Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Wales. He was previously Head of Education and Culture for the Welsh Local Government Association and before that worked in a variety of senior positions in housing and social care.

Mr. Tyndall recently served a two year term as Chairman of the British and Irish Ombudsman Association. He is a member of the World and European Boards of the International Ombudsman Institute. He has spoken and published extensively on ombudsman issues. Originally from Dublin, Mr. Tyndall has lived and worked in Wales for more than 30 years. He has an MSc in Strategic Management from Cardiff University and is married with three daughters. He received his warrant of appointment as Ombudsman and Information Commissioner from President Higgins on 2nd December 2013. Mr Tyndall succeeded Ms Emily O’Reilly and will also serve as Commissioner for Environmental Information, and as an ex-officio member of the Standards in Public Office Commission, the Office of the Commission for Public Service Appointments, the Referendum Commission and the Constituency Commission.

New Ombudsman to Deliver First Public Lecture in NUI Galway

Qatar 2022 And Forced Labour: Is There An Irish Connection

We are delighted to welcome the latest in a series of cross-posts by Dr Shane Darcy from the Business and Human Rights in Ireland Blog.  The Business and Human Rights in Ireland Blog is dedicated to tracking and analysing developments relating to business and human rights in Ireland. It aims to address legal and policy issues, as well as highlighting human rights concerns raised by the activities of Irish companies or multinational corporations based in Ireland. The blog is run by Dr Shane Darcy who is a lecturer at the Irish Centre for Human Rights, National University of Ireland Galway.

The enslavement, mistreatment and deaths of migrant workers building the stadia and infrastructure for World Cup 2022 in Qatar have caught the world’s attention, following extensive reporting in the Guardian newspaper. It is an issue that has long been recognised and warned against by human rights organisations, and while FIFA is being forced to confront the problem, it seems to have ruled out the idea of moving the competition elsewhere. The World Cup will go ahead in Qatar in 2022 and the debate over a summer or winter games merely distracts from the abysmal working conditions of the thousands of migrant workers who will build the required facilities.

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions has called on the FAI to ensure FIFA insists that the rights of workers are respected in the run-up to Qatar 2022. Attention should not be focused only on the role of the footballing associations in this scandal. There has been a significant interest from Irish companies in the lucrative construction contracts being offered ahead of Qatar 2022. Deloitte estimates that around $200 billion will be spent on construction for the World Cup in oil-rich Qatar.

With the construction industry experiencing a sharp decline in Ireland in recent years Continue reading “Qatar 2022 And Forced Labour: Is There An Irish Connection”

Qatar 2022 And Forced Labour: Is There An Irish Connection