Concerns over human rights record

THE Government is likely to face strong criticism from the United Nations human rights committee over its lack of progress on addressing concerns — first highlighted almost a decade ago — about the condition of Irish prisons as well as the state’s treatment of various groups including women, Travellers, immigrants and same-sex couples.

A report from the Irish Human Rights Commission (IHRC) has expressed concern about the situation of civil and political rights in the country, in terms of Ireland’s compliance with its international obligations on human rights.

In particular, the IHRC claims the physical condition of many prisons in the republic are wholly inadequate and fail to meet minimum standards. It is also highly critical of the lack of separation of young offenders from adult prisoners as well as the poor level of social rehabilitation programmes for prisoners.

The failure of the Government to recognise Travellers as an ethnic minority has also been condemned.

The IHRC report was drafted as an independent review of Ireland’s performance in addressing the recommendations made by the UN human rights committee, after its previous examination of the state’s record in 2000.

Government representatives are due to defend Ireland’s record on human rights when they address an oral hearing of the UN human rights committee in Geneva on July 14-15.

The UN committee has already notified the Government that it will prioritise certain issues including its treatment of prisoners, immigrants and Travellers.

It will also question Irish officials about measures taken to address reported gaps in the protection of women from domestic violence and the underfunding of services for victims.

Other areas to be examined include the possible use of Irish airports and airspace for rendition and Irish laws relating to abortion and the right to life.

IHRC president Dr Maurice Manning said yesterday that the commission’s report had highlighted a number of areas where there was poor compliance by Ireland in meeting its obligations under the UN’s International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

“Not enough action has been taken by the Irish Government to address a number of concerns in relation to detention, and due process rights, as well as the rights of women, Travellers, immigrants and same-sex couples,” he said.

IHRC chief executive Eamonn MacAodha said the commission would make its views known to the UN human rights committee in advance of its examination of Ireland’s performance next month.


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