Direct Provision and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)

UN imageThe Seanad Éireann Public Consultation Committee is inviting public submissions on Ireland’s Fourth Periodic Report under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The issue of direct provision is one that the UN Human Rights Committee, the independent body responsible for assessing Ireland’s compliance with the ICCPR, has asked the Irish government to provide information on (see ICCPR list of issues and Ireland’s reply to list of issues).

The issue of direct provision was raised by a number of shadow reports from civil society organisations, in particular by the Free Legal Advice Centres (here), the Irish Human Rights Commission (here) ,  the Irish Council of Civil Liberties (here) and the Irish Refugee Council (here).  The enormous work  by these organisations have ensured that the issue of direct provision for asylum seekers remains on the UN human rights agenda.

I have made a submission on The System of Direct Provision and Ireland’s Obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to the Seanad Public Consultation Committee. In this submission, I note that all human rights are interdependent and indivisible, violations of economic, social and cultural rights may lead to violations of civil and political rights.  The three core arguments I make to the Seanad Éireann Public Consultation Committee  are:

  1. Ireland is fully aware of the significant negative impact that direct provision is having on a large number of families and individuals.
  2. The direct provision complaints system lacks any independent oversight. This must be remedied as a matter of urgency.
  3. The operation of the direct provision system is bordering on inhuman and degrading treatment, given the length of time individuals and families will have to remain in the system. Given the level of social control, poverty and enforced idleness imposed on asylum seekers for several years, the State is also violating rights to private and family life and rights to be treated equally before the law.

You can read my full submission here.

Direct Provision and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)

Syria and International Action

The recent events in Houla have, yet again, put Syria front and centre of news reports. Over recent months we have featured posts on Syria here, here, here and here but as the situation disintegrates and fears regarding a sectarian civil war rise, this post discusses, with a particular focus on the Security Council, what the options are from an international legal perspective .

First, clearly the Security Council, with few exceptions, holds all the cards with regard to any use of force and thus makes any decision to act reliant on the agreement of the permanent five member states. Article 2 (1) and 2(4) of the UN Charter which guarantees both the sovereignty equality of states and prohibits the use of force appears to be the basis on which Russia, and also though with lesser fanfare China, is refusing to back any action, either short of or the use of force, by the UN. Russia’s continued insistence that Syria be allowed to control its own affairs has led to the United States’ alleging  that they are contributing to a possible civil war.

The descent into further violence raises questions of whether Syria has already spiralled into an internal armed conflict. The Syrian Government has continuously used the language of terrorism, perhaps with the attempt of not recognising the Free Syrian Army and thus maintaining the conflict on the level of civil disobedience and not humanitarian law. The invocation of humanitarian law would have serious consequences for the conflict, including the raising of responsibilities,  not only the Syrian Government but also the Free Syrian Army, to comply with laws of war. Continue reading “Syria and International Action”

Syria and International Action