Out on the Inside

We are delighted to welcome this guest post from Deirdre Malone, Director of the Irish Penal Reform Trust. The Trust recently launched a report on the experiences of LGBT people in prison in Ireland. 

IPRT

On 22 May 2015 I stood in the yard of Dublin Castle with my own brand new husband and watched the whooping victory of equality over discrimination. As happy newlyweds ourselves, we felt the profound importance of the occasion deeply. We saw Ireland shedding her old identity, becoming something new and brave and proud. On that day, victory felt swift and definitive. In reality it was the culmination of a decade of tenacious work and thousands of brave conversations. It was a challenge to a social system that once felt monolithic, intractable and inevitable. It represented a final blow of years of steady chipping at the hard crust of institutionalized inequality. But I wondered, were LGBT people in prison celebrating too on that day? Would they feel safe to do so?

While for those who work in the NGO sector, 22nd May 2015 was a jolting, joyful reminder that monumental change is indeed possible, the 33rd Amendment did not mark the end of homophobia, harassment or discrimination of LGBT people. That is doubly true for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people who are in prison. LGBT prisoners form a “twice marginalized” population, falling outside of the ‘mainstream’ of LGBT community organizing and support services but also hidden and largely overlooked in terms of current prison policy.

International research reveals that homophobia is often amplified in male prisons as a result of a culture of “hyper-masculinity” and the traditional hierarchical structure which prevails. Transgender prisoners, particularly women, face disproportionately high instances and severity of violence and discrimination, both in and out of prison. They are not easily accommodated within the strict male/female structure of most prisons and may also experience violence and voyeurism in the context of prison showers or toilets – a particular concern in Ireland where 45% of prisoners are still required to use the toilet in the presence of another.

LGBT prisoners are also particularly at risk of experiences of discrimination, violence, sexual coercion and verbal harassment. Putting up a front, threatening or even engaging in violence in order to avoid being a victim of abuse is seen as something necessary within the prison environment

Of course, issues of homophobia, transphobia and the wider culture of heteronormativity also affect LGBT prison staff who also have experiences of homophobia, including being the targets of abuse by prisoners. The Irish Prison Service currently participates in the GLEN Diversity Champions programme through the ‘Inside Out’ network for LGBT prison staff but to date there has been no research or policy response addressing the specific needs and experiences of LGBT prisoners.

General good practice measures for safer prisons such as single cell accommodation as standard would help. It is common in many jurisdictions for “at risk prisoners” and LGBT prisoners especially, to be placed in protective custody to safeguard them from victimisation. However in practice conditions in protective segregation are often identical to conditions for prisoners placed in segregation for disciplinary reasons thus breaching fundamental rights principles. This can lead to longer term issues including mental health difficulties caused by the effects of isolation and more limited access to services. It is vital therefore that violent cultures and opportunities for abuse are targeted through the education of prison populations, training of staff, and effective independent complaints procedures. Further research is also needed in the areas of sexual health and behaviours in prison, the experiences of young LGBT people in prison and on the issue of sexual violence and coercion and their prevalence within the prison context.

For many years now, the Irish Penal Reform Trust have been examining and listening to the experiences of diverse vulnerable groups in prison, including Travellers, women, children and young people, and immigration detainees. The recent passage of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014 sets out the positive duties of public bodies to eliminate discrimination, promote equality and protect human rights, and should act as a catalyst to address this area which has been neglected to date. We also hope that the result of the recent same-sex marriage referendum and the passage of the Gender Recognition Act 2015 will provide further impetus for reform to ensure that no LGBT person, wherever they might be, is left behind.

All of this must be understood in the wider context of overuse of imprisonment generally, and the ineffectiveness of the idea of retribution in challenging the conditions which are at the root of most punished crime – poverty, unemployment, homelessness, mental illness, addiction, desperation. The reality is that prison warehouses human misery, and by doing so, compounds it. It takes courage to challenge the status quo, but in every generation it is those that do who will also see the rewards of that courage. A challenge to the overuse of prison would lead to a more progressive, more effective, more humane, evidence-led criminal justice system – something which ultimately benefits us all.

Deirdre Malone is Executive Director of the Irish Penal Reform Trust www.iprt.ie

The IPRT report “Out on the Inside” was launched on 2 February 2016 at Wood Quay Venue, Dublin on 2 February 2016. It is available to download here

Think this work is important? Join or donate to IPRT here

 

 

Out on the Inside

A&L Goodbody and Irish Refugee Council Asylum Law Award 2016

Asylum2016header1The A&L Goodbody and Irish Refugee Council Asylum Law Award 2016 provides UCD students with the opportunity to gain invaluable legal expertise before applying for a career in law. Put your legal drafting and advocacy skills to use in our case study and gain an opportunity to work with the Irish Refugee Council and assist individuals who are seeking refugee status.

The Task

Your task is to review a case study and draft a written legal submission of no more than 2,500 words to the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner in support of your client’s application for refugee status pursuant to the Refugee Act, 1996 (as amended). You can download the entry pack, which includes the assigned problem question here.

The Prize

An internship: A four-week internship with the Irish Refugee Council, giving you exposure to real life cases and a first step in your legal career.

€2,000 in cash: Towards your educational fees – or that college loan!

The Judging Panel

Your entry will be reviewed by a judging panel made up of the following industry professionals:

Brian Collins, Senior Solicitor, Irish Refugee Council

Liam Thornton, Human Rights Lecturer, University College Dublin

Eamonn Conlon, Partner and Head of Corporate Responsibility, A&L Goodbody

To enter the competition, please send your submission to UCDLawAward@algoodbody.com by midnight on Friday, 18th March 2016.

Special UCD lecture to help write your entry!

An Introduction to Irish Asylum Law” will take place on Tuesday 16th February from 6pm to 8pm in the William Fry Theatre, UCD Sutherland School of Law.

This introductory seminar on Irish asylum law may be of use to those interested in submitting an entry to the Asylum Law Award 2016. It may be helpful in relation to constructing a response to the case study as posed. This seminar, delivered by Dr Liam Thornton, UCD Sutherland School of Law, will explore:

The legal definition of refugee, including:

  1. What is a ‘well-founded fear’?;
  2. What is meant by the phrase ‘persecution’?;
  3. Exploration of the nexus grounds of particular relevance to the problem question; and
  4. Exclusion from refugee status.

All UCD students (law and non-law students) considering applying for the Asylum Law Award 2016 are welcome to attend this seminar.

A&L Goodbody and Irish Refugee Council Asylum Law Award 2016

Open Letter: Recognition of the Travelling Community as an Ethnic Minority in Ireland

We would like to lend our strong support to the motion recently before the Dail to recognise Travellers as an ethnic minority. This is a long overdue development. The preventable tragedy of Carrickmines brings this imperative further to the fore. History will not look kindly on those individuals and political parties voting to deny Travellers this basic right to ethnic recognition.

c/o Dr. Paul Downes, St. Patrick’s College, Dublin City University

Professor Gerry Whyte, Trinity College Dublin

Leah O’Toole, Marino Institute of Education

John Fitzgerald BL

Dr. Ann Louise Gilligan (retired), St. Patrick’s College, Drumcondra

Dr. Padraig Carmody, Trinity College Dublin

Professor Ursula Kilkelly, School of Law, University College Cork

Dr. Stephen Kinsella, University of Limerick

William Binchy, Fellow Emeritus, Trinity College Dublin

Siobhan Phelan SC

Professor Aoife Nolan, School of Law, University of Nottingham

Professor Fionnuala Waldron, St. Patrick’s College, DCU

Marion Brennan, Early Childhood Ireland

Dr Mark Taylor, Goldsmiths, University of London

Dr. Marie Moran, University College Dublin

Professor Carmel Cefai, University of Malta

Dr. Audrey Bryan, St. Patrick’s College, DCU

Declan Dunne, Sophia Housing and Homeless Services,

Denise Mc Cormilla, National Childhood Network

Dr. Maggie Feeley, UCD

Dr Anthony Cullen, Middlesex University, London

Dr. Sylwia Kazmierczak-Murray, Cabra School Completion Programme

Dr. James O’Higgins Norman, DCU

Dr. Padraic Gibson, The Bateson Clinic

Dr. Susan Pike, St. Patrick’s College, DCU

Fran Cassidy, Social Policy Consultant/Filmmaker

Dr. Maeve O’Brien, St. Patrick’s College, DCU

Frank Gilligan, Ballyfermot Local Drugs Task Force

Dr. Geraldine Scanlon, DCU

Dr. Catherine Maunsell, St. Patrick’s College, DCU

Dr. Majella McSharry, DCU

Dr Liam Thornton, UCD

Open Letter: Recognition of the Travelling Community as an Ethnic Minority in Ireland

Book Launch: International Human Rights: Perspectives from Ireland, 8 December 2015

EganOn December 8th 2015,  UCD School of Law will host the launch of Suzanne Egan’s new edited collection International Human Rights: Perspectives from Ireland. The book will be launched by the Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC), Emily Logan.

Location: Gardiner Atrium, UCD School of Law

Time/Date: 6.30pm on 8th December 2015. 

RSVP: law.events@ucd.ie 

International Human Rights: Perspectives from Ireland examines Ireland’s engagement with, and influence of, the international human rights regime. International human rights norms are increasingly being taken into account by legislators, courts and public bodies in taking decisions and implementing actions that impact on human rights. Featuring chapters by leading Irish and international academic experts, practitioners and advocates, the book combines theoretical as well as practical analysis and integrates perspectives from a broad range of actors in the human rights field. You can access the full table of contents for this book here.  Egan’s collection explores:

  • The philosophical development and challenges to/of human rights;
  • The international human rights framework (UN human rights council; UN Treaty system; EU and ECHR);
  • Implementing human rights in Ireland (Magdalenes, socio-economic rights, rights of the child; human trafficking; religion; privacy; refugee definition; criminal justice, policing and conflict).
  • Implementing human rights abroad (Irish foreign policy and obligations of Irish organisations).

Bloomsbury are offering all registered students (full and part time) a 40% discount on the book, with the discount code: IHR40%. You should enter this code at checkout

Book Launch: International Human Rights: Perspectives from Ireland, 8 December 2015

FLAC: 2016 Thomas Addis Emmet Fellowship

FlacThe Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC) is now accepting applications for the 2016 Thomas Addis Emmet Fellowship – a unique opportunity awarded each summer to an Irish law student interested in working on critical social justice issues and developing skills in public interest law practice.

Run in conjunction with the University of Washington, the recipient will spend two months with a public interest law justice centre at the forefront of human rights and social change in Seattle, Washington, gaining hands-on experience of targeted public interest litigation, policy development and campaigns.

The Fellowship is open to all current law students, including students that have studied law as part of their undergraduate degree, postgraduates in law, and students of the King’s Inns or Law Society professional practice courses.

To apply please submit an essay on an area of public interest law of your choice (max. 2000 words) along with a cover letter and CV to info@flac.ie by Friday 15 January 2016.

For more information, please download the information sheet.

FLAC: 2016 Thomas Addis Emmet Fellowship

Call for Submissions-Lacuna Magazine

Lacuna is an online Magazine published by the Centre for Human Rights in Practice which challenges indifference to suffering and promotes human rights. Its aim is to fill the gap between the short-term immediacy of daily journalism and long-term academic analysis.
 
Lacuna is now revisiting the theme of protest and will be publishing a Special Issue on this theme in February 2016. We are now seeking submissions, with a closing date of December 31st 2015.
 
All forms of writing and visual art will be considered: fiction, non-fiction, poetry, film, animation and photography. You may wish to investigate a particular instance of protest, to provide commentary, reportage or expert analysis of a protest-related theme. Or you may wish to review a book, a film, a piece of music, art or theatre connected to protest.
 
We are interested in exploring the diverse spectrum of forms of protest: boycotts; marches; strikes;  sit ins; direct actions; online petitions; songs; stories and many more. What makes protests in all of these forms enticing, legitimate, rewarding, fruitful…? What are the wrongs that provoke our anger and how do we take action in response? We are particularly interested in work that seeks to uncover peoples’ motivations for protesting, what they seek to achieve by protesting, and/or the outcomes of their actions.
 
 
Call for Submissions-Lacuna Magazine

LLM in Law with socio-legal focus at DCU

DCUThe School of Law and Government at Dublin City University (DCU) invites applications for its taught Masters in law (LLM). The School is unique in the Irish academic legal landscape for its core “law and society” research theme and its focus on socio-legal studies. DCU’s LLM in Law specifically sets out to be different from other taught Masters in law. It offers a fantastic range of innovative, challenging modules and aims to enhance and expand not only students’ substantive knowledge of the law but their practical legal skill-sets. The LLM programme team is dedicated to using innovative, experiential and skills-based pedagogical strategies in order to facilitate students with an active and student-centric learning experience. This LLM is designed to deliver strong potential employees to the marketplace, and strong critical thinkers to the research community. If you want to deepen your ability to examine and critique the law in its societal context and increase your applied legal competencies then this LLM is for you.

DCU’s LLM in Law is delivered as a one-year, full-time programme. Students will take one core year-long module in Legal and Socio-Legal Research Skills. This will provide students with important skills to analyse and critique the legal research of others, along with a robust grounding for their own completion of an independent research Dissertation (15,000 – 20,000 words). In addition to the core Legal and Socio-Legal Research Skills module and the Dissertation students can choose four optional modules (two in each semester).

Full details on these modules (which include international law modules, commercial law modules, socio-legal and public law modules) along with further information on the LLM programme are available here.

Applications are via www.pac.ie and the closing date is July 31st 2015.

LLM in Law with socio-legal focus at DCU

PILA Seminar: The Duty of the State in Constitutional Cases– 7 July, Dublin

PILAFollowing their recent book, ‘Public interest litigation and social change in South Africa: Strategies, tactics and lessons’, Gilbert Marcus SC and Nick Ferreira are visiting Dublin to share learning in public interest litigation.

Date:                     7 July 2015

Time:                    5.30pm – 7pm

Venue:                 The Morrison Hotel, Lower Ormond Quay

Marcus and Ferreira will explore the duty of the State in constitutional cases, followed by a panel discussion with Michael Lynn SC and Noeline Blackwell of FLAC on the experience of public interest litigators in Ireland. The seminar will be chaired by former Attorney General, Paul Gallagher SC.

This event is a must for those interested in how to best use rights, law and litigation to advance social change. Continue reading “PILA Seminar: The Duty of the State in Constitutional Cases– 7 July, Dublin”

PILA Seminar: The Duty of the State in Constitutional Cases– 7 July, Dublin

The Direct Provision Report: The People Impacted

DP ReportYou can find my preliminary analysis of the McMahon Report on the Protection Process and Direct Provision System here.

You can access the McMahon Report here.

The McMahon Report is one of the first attempts by the State to systematically explore the total numbers of persons who are in the protection process and leave to remain process, including those who have unsuccessfully sought protection and leave to remain and who are now subject to a subsisting deportation order. Such figures had not been available as a matter of course, meant that there were significant unknowns as regards numbers within the protection process (and related migration areas such as leave to remain and those subject to deportation orders).

Some of the headline statistics emerging from the McMahon Report include:

  • As of February 2015, the McMahon Report identified 7,937 persons who are in the protection process (49%), the leave to remain process (42%) and persons whose claim for protection and leave to remain was not granted, and who are subject to a deportation order (9%).
  • There are 3,876 persons within the protection process. 1,189 persons have been in the protection determination system for 5 years or more.
  • There are 3,343 in the leave to remain process; 2,530 persons have been in the leave to remain process for 5 years or more.
  • There are 718 persons subject to a deportation order. 628 persons have an outstanding deportation order for 5 years or more.

 

Of this 7,937 persons in the system, 3,607 (46%) live in direct provision accommodation. 4, 330 (54%) of persons live outside direct provision. As the McMahon Report notes: Continue reading “The Direct Provision Report: The People Impacted”

The Direct Provision Report: The People Impacted

The Direct Provision Report: An Overview and Introduction

DP ReportYou can find my preliminary analysis of the McMahon Report on the Protection Process and Direct Provision System here.

You can access the McMahon Report here.

The Working Group Report on the Protection System and Direct Provision (McMahon Report) report was released on June 30 2015. The McMahon Report provides a significant number of recommendations on the protection process in Ireland and the system of direct provision.[1] That changes would be occurring to the protection process and the system of direct provision were hinted at in July 2014. The Statement of Government Priorities 2014-2016 outlined the need to

“address the current system of direct provision…to make it more respectful of the applicant and less costly to the tax-payer”.[2]

There was also a commitment to establish a single procedure for asylum applicants. The publication of the Heads of the International Protection Bill in March 2015 (before the Working Group reported) has indicated Government willingness to move the single procedure forward. However, the Working Group seems overly ambitious in estimating that the single procedure will be in place and operational by 01 January 2016.[3]

After consultation with Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in September 2014,[4] the terms of reference and membership of the Working Group was announced on 13 October 2014.[5] The terms of reference of the Working Group were:

 

“Having regard to the rights accorded to refugees under the 1951 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and bearing in mind the Government’s commitment to legislate to reduce the waiting period for protection applicants through the introduction of a single application procedure,

to recommend to the Government what improvements should be made to the State’s existing Direct Provision and protection process and to the various supports provided for protection applicants; and specifically to indicate what actions could be taken in the short and longer term which are directed towards:

(i) improving existing arrangements in the processing of protection applications;

(ii) showing greater respect for the dignity of persons in the system and improving their quality of life by enhancing the support and services currently available;

ensuring at the same time that, in light of recognised budgetary realities, the overall cost of the protection system to the taxpayer is reduced or remains within or close to current levels and that the existing border controls and immigration procedures are not compromised.”

 

The Working Group commenced work on its report on 10 November 2014.[6] The McMahon Report emerged over eight plenary meetings, with the sub-groups identified below meeting on 38 separate occasions.[7] The limitations on the terms of reference were accepted by NGO representatives at the first meeting. The McMahon Report notes that:

“organisations advocating an end to direct provision, and who may be disappointed in this limitation, had accepted their appointment on the basis of the terms of reference”.[8]

The core issue identified by the Working Group was “length of time” in the protection process and length of time protection applicants were subject to the system of direct provision.[9] An Agreed Work Programme was set out, with members decided which sub-group they would be part of (and could be part of all sub-groups if they so wished):[10]

  • Theme 1: Improvements within direct provision;
  • Theme 2: Improvements to ancillary supports for those in direct provision
  • Theme 3: Improvements in the determination process for protection applicants.

Overall, the Report contains a mix of significant recommendations on the protection process and processing of asylum claims.[11] However, I argue, there are significant concerns with the recommendations that have emerged as regards direct provision accommodation and supports for asylum applicants.[12]

Pic Credit: Merrion Street

[1] For a glossary of core terms that will be used as regards immigration status in this analysis, see Thornton, L. Glossary of Terms: Irish Asylum Law (UCD, 2013).

[2] Department of An Taoiseach, Statement of Government Priorities 2014-2016 (July 2014), p. 9.

[3] Working Group report to Government on Improvements to the Protection Process, including Direct Provision and Supports to Asylum Seekers (hereinafter the McMahon Report), paras 66, 6.17, 6.31, 6.39 and 6.46.

[4] 18 September 2014: Consultation with NGOs as regards terms of reference for the Working Group and other aspects of the protection process.

[5] Department of Justice and Equality, Terms of Reference and membership of the Working Group (October 2013).

[6] Working Group report to Government on Improvements to the Protection Process, including Direct Provision and Supports to Asylum Seekers (hereinafter the McMahon Report), para. 6.

[7] McMahon Report, para. 20.

[8] McMahon Report, para. 8.

[9] McMahon Report, para. 3 and Appendix 6.

[10] McMahon Report, para. 4 and Appendix 1.

[11] See generally, Chapter 3 of the McMahon Report.

[12] See generally, Chapter 4 and Chapter 5 of the McMahon Report.

The Direct Provision Report: An Overview and Introduction