- July 24, 2014
- Human Rights
Watchdog welcomes UN call for constitutional reform on abortion
Press release, for immediate release
Thursday 24 July 2014
Ireland’s human rights watchdog, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) has today (Thursday 24 July 2014) welcomed a call by the UN’s top human rights experts for Constitutional reform on abortion, as well as prompt, independent and thorough investigations into the abuses perpetrated upon survivors of the Magdalene laundries and of the barbaric surgical practice of symphysiotomy.
The recommendations come in the hard-hitting (8-page) “concluding observations” of the UN Human Rights Committee, published this morning following Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald TD’s appearance in Geneva to defend Ireland’s human rights record earlier this month (14-15 July 2014).
Amongst the Committee’s recommendations are:
Ireland should “revise its legislation on abortion, including its Constitution, to provide for additional exceptions in cases of rape, incest, serious risks to the health of the mother, or fatal foetal abnormality”.
Institutional abuse of women and children
Ireland should “conduct prompt, independent and thorough investigation into all allegations of abuse in Magdalene Laundries, children’s institutions and mother and baby homes, prosecute and punish the perpetrators with penalties commensurate with the gravity of the offence, and ensure that all victims obtain an effective remedy, including appropriate compensation, restitution, rehabilitation and measures of satisfaction.”
“The Committee expresses concern that symphysiotomy, childbirth operations which sever one of the main pelvic joints and unhinges the pelvis, was introduced into clinical practice and performed on approximately 1,500 girls and women in public and private hospitals between 1944 and 1987 without their free and informed consent.”
Ireland should “initiate a prompt, independent and thorough investigation into cases of symphysiotomy, prosecute and punish the perpetrators, including medical personnel, and provide an effective remedy to the survivors of symphysiotomy for the damage sustained, including fair and adequate compensation and rehabilitation, on an individualized basis. It should facilitate access to judicial remedies by victims opting for the ex-gratia scheme, including allowing a challenge to the sums offered to them under the scheme.”
ICCL Director Mr Mark Kelly said:
“These headline recommendations by the UN’s top human rights experts have a root common cause: the ongoing failure in our law, policy and practice to respect the human rights, autonomy and bodily integrity of women. The ICCL is calling for a full Oireachtas debate on these damning findings, as well as the creation of an effective national implementation mechanism to ensure that the UN’s clear recommendations are implemented in full”.
For press queries, and interview requests, please contact:
Irish Council for Civil Liberties
T: +353 87 9981574 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sarah Harte, DHR Communications
Tel: 01-4200580 / 087-9858259
Notes to Editor
- The UN Human Rights Committee’s Concluding Observations on Ireland were published today at 12.30pm in Geneva. They are available at the UN’s website at http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CCPR%2fC%2fIRL%2fCO%2f4&Lang=en
- Follow live commentary and reaction on the Concluding Observations on Twitter at #ICCPR
- Today’s comments were made at an ICCL-convened press conference which took place today from 2pm at the Radisson Hotel on Golden Lane in Dublin 2. The press conference was attended by a range of civil society groups and experts, including:
- Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL)
- Immigrant Council of Ireland (ICI)
- Survivors of Symphysiotomy (SOS)
- Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT)
- Irish Traveller Movement (ITM)
- Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI)
- Educate Together
- Professor Veronica O ‘Kane, Consultant Psychiatrist
- Photos from the press conference will be filed to all newsdesks by Colin Keegan of Collins Photo Agency
- The Human Rights Council hearing in Geneva on 14th and 15th July 2014 was the fourth time Ireland was examined by the UN Human Rights Committee on its human rights record. This process takes place periodically under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), an international treaty to which Ireland is a signatory. The last hearing took place in 2008. The Irish Government delegation was lead by Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald TD. This is a measure of the great legal and diplomatic significance of this process for the Irish government, particularly given Ireland’s current seat on the prestigious UN Human Rights Council. The hearing concluded on 15 July with some sharp criticism of Ireland by UN Human Rights Committee Chair Sir Nigel Rodley, who described Ireland’s legacy of human rights violations as “quite a collection ... that has carried on [for a] period that it’s hard to imagine any state party tolerating”.
- The Irish Council for Civil Liberties led a 30-member delegation of civil society groups to Geneva on 14 and 15 July to take part in the hearings through provision of information to the UN Human Rights Committee members via oral and written statements. The delegation included: The Irish Council for Civil Liberties, Survivors of Symphysiotomy, Immigrant Council of Ireland, Irish Traveller Movement, Pavee Point, Irish Family Planning Association, Doctors for Choice, Abortion Rights Campaign, Irish Penal Reform Trust, Inclusion Ireland, Atheist Alliance International.
- The Irish Council for Civil Liberties, in partnership with colleagues, submitted a detailed ‘Shadow Report’ of human rights issues in Ireland to the Committee in advance of the hearings. Copies of this report can be downloaded at http://iccl.ie/attachments/download/310/ICCL_LegacyICCPR14_LowRes.pdf
- Using the Storehouse platform, the ICCL has compiled a detailed multimedia webpage on the UN ICCPR process, including quotes, images and video testimony from civil society groups involved in the process. See it at the below link, or for iPad users, via the Storehouse app: https://www.storehouse.co/stories/t1re8-fourth-periodic-examination-of-ireland-under-iccpr-2014
- The webcast of the hearing is available to download at http://www.treatybodywebcast.org/
- Who are the UN Human Rights Committee?
The UN Human Rights Committe is an independent committee of the UN’s top human rights experts. Its membership is listed below. Full CVs and bios are available at http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/CCPR/Pages/Membership.aspx
- Sir Nigel RODLEY (Chairperson) (United Kingdom) - Professor of Law and Chair, Human Rights Centre, University of Essex; former UN Special Rapporteur on Torture: Former Commissioner, International Commission of Jurists
- Mr. Yadh BEN ACHOUR (Vice-Chairperson) (Tunisia) – Senior Professor of law at Faculté des Sciences juridiques de Tunis
- Ms. Margo WATERVAL (Vice-Chairperson) (Suriname) - Lecturer in Human Rights Law, International Humanitarian Law and Diplomatic and Consular Law at the Anton de Kom University of Suriname;
- Mr. Lazhari BOUZID (Algeria) – Expert in International Law; Senator and member of the Foreign Affairs Commission, at the Algerian Council of the Nation
- Ms. Christine CHANET (France) - Counsellor to the French Court of Cassation; Member of the French National Consultative Commission on Human Rights; Member of the UN Committee against Torture
- Mr. Ahmad Amin FATHALLA (Egypt) – Senior legal expert; representative of Egypt to the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Court
- Mr.Cornelis FLINTERMAN (Rapporteur) (The Netherlands) - Emeritus professor of human rights, Utrecht University, the Netherlands
- Mr. Yuji IWASAWA (Japan) – Professor of International Law, University of Tokyo, Japan
- Mr. Walter KALIN (Switzerland) - Professor of constitutional and international law, University of Bern; expert for the Swiss Parliament and the Swiss Federal Administration on issues of refugee law, human rights law, constitutional law
- Ms. Zonke Zanele MAJODINA (South Africa) - Research Associate, Africa Institute of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa
- Mr. Dheerujlall .B. SEETULSINGH (Mauritius)
- Mr. Andrei Paul ZLÃTESCU (Romania) – Professor and Academic Program Coordinator, European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights and Democratisation, Venice
- Mr.Gerald L. NEUMAN (United States of America) - J. Sinclair Armstrong Professor of International, Foreign, and Comparative Law, Harvard Law School
- Mr. Victor Manuel RODRÍGUEZ-RESCIA (Costa Rica) - Member of UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT); Senior Consultant of Inter-American Institute of Human Rights (San Jose, Costa Rica); Professor of Human Rights, International Human Rights Law Institute, DePaul University
- Mr. Fabián Omar SALVIOLI - (Argentina) - Doctor in Juridical Sciences; Lawyer, Specialist in International Relations, La Plata National University (Argentina)
- Ms. Anja SEIBERT-FOHR (Germany) – Chair of International Law, Gottingen University Law School
- Mr. Yuval SHANY (Israel) – Hersch Lauterpach Chair of Public International Law, Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Senior Research Fellow, Israel Democracy Institute
- Mr. Konstantine VARDZELASHVILI (Georgia) – Vice President of the Constitutional Court of Georgia; Judge at the European Court of Human Rights
- July 9, 2014
The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL)
invites you to join us in the
Human Rights “Green Room”
For Ireland's Appearance Before the UN Human Rights Committee
Next Monday afternoon, Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald TD will be defending Ireland’s record on civil and political rights before the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva. This is your invitation to join us in our Human Rights “Green Room” to watch the screening live in Dublin. Colleagues from a wide variety of civil society organisations that have provided expert evidence to the UN Human Rights Committee will be present and the event will be a “media hub” for commentators and journalists.
Proceedings from Geneva will be live tweeted at #ICCPR
Afternoon tea will be served.
Date: Monday 14th July 2014
Time: 2pm – 5pm
The Human Rights “Green Room”, Goldsmith’s Hall, Radisson Blu Hotel, Golden Lane, Dublin 2
RSVP to email@example.com or 01 7994504
Participants are welcome to drop in from 1.15pm to watch the live feed from the UN in Geneva on the big screen in the Green Room.
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