Gardaí urged to implement human rights protections

AN Garda Síochána needs to implement human rights protections for the sake of the public and its own officers, it was claimed yesterday.

The Irish Human Rights Commission has made 36 recommendations on how the force could become more human rights-compliant. The recommendations are contained in a policy document, compiled by Prof Dermot Walsh of the University of Limerick.

Launching the document yesterday, IHRC president, Dr Maurice Manning, said despite strides made by the gardaí in recent years, more transparency was needed to inspire public confidence and help members.

“Not publishing the Garda Code and Garda operational policies runs counter to developing an open and transparent police service and falls short of best international practice,” said Dr Manning.

The IHRC recommendations include calls to bring the gardaí under the scope of the Freedom of Information Act; more powers for the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (such as powers to enter all Garda stations on demand); that any incidence of racially-motivated misconduct be treated as an explicit disciplinary offence, and that more effort is made to reflect the increasingly diverse nature of Irish society within the Garda.

The IHRC also called for aspects of the Ionann Management Consultant Report — compiled five years ago but not fully acted upon — to be implemented.

Other recommendations include the drafting of a Garda Human Rights Action Plan; the establishing of the Strategic Human Rights Advisory Committee (SHRAC) to advise Garda chiefs; the introduction of the Garda Síochána Act 2005; and beginning work on a Garda Code of Ethics to include human rights standards.

Asked about measures being considered to tackle gangland crime in areas such as parts of Limerick, Éamonn Mac Aodha, chief executive, said the IHRC would express a view on the new Criminal Justice (Surveillance) Bill, and stressed that “we would view human rights as being good for policing”.


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