EU watchdog to assess human rights in Ireland

Europe’s human rights watchdog is conducting a five-day investigation next week into the human rights situation in Ireland.

Europe’s human rights watchdog is conducting a five-day investigation next week into the human rights situation in Ireland.

The Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg, flies to Dublin on Monday with a brief to analyse children’s rights, juvenile justice and migrants’ rights, as well as Irish legal safeguards against discrimination.

He plans talks with Bertie Ahern and his senior ministers, as well as meetings with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the President of the High Court, the Attorney General, Ireland’s Human Rights Commission and MPs.

The five-day meeting includes a trip to Cork and involves visits in both cities to youth offenders’ facilities, accommodation for asylum-seekers and psychiatric homes.

The routine trip is similar to many conducted in the Council of Europe’s 47 member states, which include all 27 EU countries.

The Council of Europe, pre-dating the European Union, is the guardian of the European Convention on Human Rights, to which all its members are signatories.

Mr Hammarberg became the body’s Human Rights Commissioner in April 2006, with a mandate to “promote awareness of, and respect for, human rights in the 47 member States of the Council of Europe”.

A Council spokesman said his five days in Ireland would cover a broad range of human rights issues, including the functioning of the police and the judiciary, women’s rights, treatment of asylum seekers and the situation of Travellers.

The Commissioner will present his preliminary observations in Dublin next Friday, with a full report, and any recommendations for change in Ireland’s human rights practices, due out early next year.

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