July 27 2017
Today, the Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality, David Stanton, T.D heads up the Irish delegation that has travelled to Geneva for Ireland’s examination by a UN Expert Committee of Ireland’s Second Report under the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhumane, Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT).
In his opening address, Minister Stanton said that Ireland has a strong human rights record and looked forward to engaging in an open and frank dialogue with the Committee over the following two days. He said that the UNCAT process, to which Ireland is a party, is a key international human rights instrument through which we seek to protect and vindicate rights of persos both at home and abroad. .Minister Stanton said that he was delighted that so many members of our civil society groups, and our Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, were in Geneva, or were observing proceedings online
Minister Stanton pointed to many positive developments since Ireland last appeared before the UNCAT Committee in 2011 which clearly illustrated our commitment to honouring both the letter and spirit of the Convention.
These developments included:
- with effect from 31 March, 2017 children are no longer sent to adult prisons. Since that date all 17 year olds are committed to the Children’s Detention Centre at Oberstown, rather than to St. Patrick’s Institution. This has enabled St. Patrick’s Institution to be closed with effect from 7 April, 2017
- the Irish Prison Service is close to the complete elimination of the practice of ‘slopping out’ with 99% of prisoners now having access to in-cell sanitation.
- The formal commencement of the International Protection Act 2015 on 31 December 2016, which will significantly accelerate the protection determination process and by extension will reduce the length of time applicants spend in State provided accommodation.
In the area of social legacy issues, Minister Stanton acknowledged that Ireland accepts that it cannot be proud of certain aspects of its social history but highlighted what the Government, and its predecessors, has done to address them including:
- The payment to date of over €25.5 million to 677 women under Magdalen Laundries Redress Scheme to date.
- An anticipated overall expenditure of some € 1.25bn by the independent Residential Institutions Redress Board established in December 2002 pursuant to the Residential Institutions Redress Act, 2002 to make fair and reasonable awards to persons who, as children, were abused while resident in industrial schools, reformatories and other institutions subject to state regulation or inspection.
- The establishment in 2015 by the Government of an independent Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes to provide a full account of what happened to vulnerable women and children in these institutions during the period 1922 to 1998.