As several newspapers have noted today, the UN Committee against Torture has released its Concluding Observations for Ireland (all documents are available here). This is the Committee’s response to Ireland’s first periodic report. Fiona detailed the core issues on which the Committee was expected to focus here. We hope to have fuller posts on some of these issues in due course, and of course, welcome guest commentary from others researching in relevant areas.
This week two new damning reports on Irish prisons were published: one by the Council of Europe Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Degrading Treatment (CPT) and one by the Ombudsman for Children, Emily Logan. Both outlining serious human rights concerns within the prison system of this country. While the focus of the Ombudsman for Children’s report is on St Patrick’s Institution (which houses male offenders aged between 16 and 21), the Report of the CPT covers all places of detention in Ireland including prisons, garda stations and psychiatric institutions.
The CPT Report is based on a visit to Ireland carried out by members of the Committee between 25th January and 5th February 2010 and it contains details of appalling human rights issues in Irish prisons, including matters relating to prisoner healthcare, prisoner protection, and the investigation of complaints against staff. Continue reading “Damning New Reports on Detention in Irish Prisons: Ombudsman for Children and CPT”
On October 22nd a number of important reports were published by the Office of the Inspector of Prisons in Ireland:
- The Irish Prison Population – an examination of duties and obligations owed to prisoners
- Report of an Investigation on the use of ‘Special Cells’ in Irish Prisons
- Guidance on Best Practice relating to Prisoners’ Complaints and Prison Discipline
- Inspector of Prisons Annual Report (March 2009 – September 2010)
1. In the report on The Irish Prison Population – an examination of duties and obligations owed to prisoners the Inspector of Prisons, Judge Michael Reilly, Continue reading “Inspector of Prisons Reports Recently Published”
Both the Sunday Tribune and Morning Ireland have recently reported on the changes being made at Mountjoy Prison since the new governor, Ned Whelan, took over on July 1, 2010. Governor Whelan has established a “zero tolerance” policy in relation to drugs, stating that he does not agree with the suggestion that allowing drugs in makes for a quieter prison.
The “zero tolerance” policy is supported by several new measures including: the placing of sophisticated netting (costing €250,000) over one of the prison exercise yards (the other two are to be covered with netting in the next two months); a new requirement that visitors make prior appointments; and the introduction of drug dogs. Not only does the crackdown on drugs serve to assist Governor Whelan, formerly of Portlaoise prison, in his efforts to “try and rehabilitate and protect everyone within the prison”, Continue reading “New Regime begins at Mountjoy Prison”
A decision was handed down by the High Court yesterday in the case of Mulligan v Governer of Portlaoise Prison, which, as noted here before, involved a claim for damages from a former prisoner of Portlaoise Prison based on the assertion that the practice of “slopping out” was humiliating, degrading, and in breach of his constitutional and human rights. The High Court decided against Mr Mulligan and considered that, in the particular circumstances of this case, the practice did not amount to a breach of his rights either under the Constitution or under the European Convention on Human Rights.
A Press Release from the Irish Penal Reform Trust notes that a most disappointing element of the judgment is that while the Court found the conditions of sanitation, ventilation and hygiene in this case to be “unacceptable”, they were not considered sufficiently bad to constitute a violation of constitutional rights. In his judgment, MacMenamin J noted that the Irish Prison Service had undertaken to address the issue of “”slopping out” eleven years ago, in 1999, having considered the practice to be unacceptable since the early 1990s, but no real progress has been made on this issue in the older prisons. Continue reading “"Slopping Out" – Unacceptable but not Unconstitutional”
RTE reported yesterday evening that a former prisoner has begun an 8 day High Court action in which he seeks compensation for the humiliation and degradation which he endured during his time at Portlaoise Prison as a consequence of the practice of ‘slopping out’. The phrase refers to the practice whereby prisoners are denied in-cell sanitation and are provided with chamber pots instead. The IPRT says that just over 30% of Irish prisoners ‘slop out’. The Irish Times has further details this morning. The Human Rights Committee expressed concern about the prevalence of the practice in its 2008 examination of Ireland. We will have comprehensive commentary as and when more details of the case emerge. Until then, this article in the 2008 Judicial Studies Institute Journal by Dr. Ursula Kilkelly and Claire Hamilton (from p. 74 especially) is an excellent guide to the human rights issues involved.