Ireland ‘breaching prisoners’ rights’ by not allowing complaints to be independently investigated

Ireland is breaching human rights by not allowing adult prisoners have complaints independently investigated, according to a leading judge.

Speaking in Dublin at the ‘The Ombudsman behind Bars’ conference, Inspector of Prisons, Judge Michael Reilly, called for the Ombudsman be given the powers to investigate complaints from prisoners. Judge Reilly said that every prisoner had a right under international treaties and United Nations rules to have a complaint independently investigated.

In Ireland, prisoners can make complaints to the Irish Prison Service but there is no external element to the complaints process, which is in breach of the UN’s ‘Mandela Rules’.

“It would be simplistic to suggest that responsibility for the investigation of all prisoner complaints should be vested in an independent external agency.

“I have recommended to the minister for justice and equality that prisoners must be entitled to bring complaints before a judicial or other authority, having exhausted the internal prison complaints mechanism and this authority should be the Ombudsman,” he said.

Ombudsman Peter Tyndall welcomed the call saying his office was well placed to take on the responsibility.

“It is important that all users of public services, including prisoners, should have objective, independent consideration of their complaints.

“Ombudsmen elsewhere already deal with complaints from prisoners and my office is already well placed to take on this role in Ireland,” he said.


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