Amnesty accuses State of failing on human rights

AMNESTY International has accused the Government of failing to meet its human rights obligations.

In a report published today it calls for the establishment of a minister for human rights and equality to ensure Ireland meets its obligations at home and takes legislative action to tackle poverty and discrimination.

Amnesty’s comprehensive assessment of human rights in Ireland, called Mind the Gap, points out that the adoption of a human rights framework to address critical issues such as health, housing and discrimination was in the social and economic interest of the country.

Programme director of Amnesty International’s Irish section Noeleen Hartigan said the freedoms enjoyed by people in Ireland are the envy of most of the world’s population.

But she added that Ireland had failed to incorporate key human rights treaties into domestic law, particularly in the area of economic, social and cultural rights.

The State had also failed to deliver national policies and their funding in a way that prevented human rights violations and its civil service did not have the capacity to ensure that human rights standards are promoted in government policy, added Ms Hartigan.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the 59th anniversary of which is celebrated today, was never meant to be an a la carte list from which governments could choose, she said.

“As a first priority we call on the Government to acknowledge that economic, social and cultural rights are legitimate and give them the same legal standing and enforceability as civil and political rights. Legislation for a right to housing and a right to health should be the first priority for this Government.”

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