Ireland's UPR Interim Report - End “Catch 22” Approach to Implementing Human Rights Law says ICCL

Image: UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon addressing the UN Human Rights Council in March 2014

Press release, for immediate release

Friday, 21 March 2014

Ireland's independent human rights watchdog, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) has today (Friday, 21 March 2014) welcomed the publication of the new Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) Bill, but called upon the Government to end its "catch 22" approach to implementing international human rights law.

The publication of the IHREC Bill comes as Ireland faces renewed international scrutiny at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva, where the State will today submit an 'interim report' under the UN's Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process.

Commenting on these developments, ICCL Director Mr Mark Kelly said:

"The ICCL warmly welcomes the publication of the IHREC Bill and the Government's assertions that 'the promotion and protection of human rights is at the heart of Ireland's domestic and foreign policies' and that it is 'committed to protecting the rights of all members of society, particularly the most vulnerable'. However, a detailed analysis of the action taken since 2011 to implement UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) recommendations tells a different story."

"The Government's interim UPR report reiterates its longstanding position that Ireland does not become a party to international human rights treaties 'until it is first in a position to comply with the obligations imposed by the treaty in question, including by amending domestic law as necessary'. While superficially laudable, this creates a highly-convenient form of 'catch 22' in which treaties cannot be ratified until laws are put in place, but the necessary laws are not put in place."

Examples highlighted by the Council include Ireland's ongoing failure to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and an Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture (OPCAT) both of which would require the State to create new national human rights and equality monitoring mechanisms.

"It is seven years since the State agreed to sign up to these two important human rights treaties", Mr Kelly said, "yet today it will tell the UN that an 'interdepartmental committee' is 'monitoring the remaining legislative and administrative actions' needed to ratify CRPD and that 'work is progressing' on an unpublished 'draft general scheme' of a bill needed to ratify OPCAT. This is simply not good enough".

"Today's hearing in Geneva provides an opportunity for the Government to breathe life into to the human rights commitments that it made to its fellow UN member States in Geneva back in October 2011.  The ICCL hopes that Ireland's Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Ms Patricia O'Brien, will seize the opportunity to be far more specific about how Ireland intends to live up to its human rights obligations to vulnerable people, both at home and abroad", Mr Kelly concluded.

ENDS

Walter Jayawardene

Communications Manager

Irish Council for Civil Liberties

Mob: +353 87 9981574  

E-mail  walter.jayawardene@iccl.ie

NOTES TO EDITOR

•     The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) Bill will provide a legal basis for the dissolution of the Irish Human Rights Commission and the Equality Authority and the creation of a new National Human Rights Institution (NHRI) for Ireland. The Bill will be made available on the website of the Department of Justice later today at www.justice.ie

•     See our Storehouse longform multimedia piece on Ireland's UPR Interim Review at www.storehouse.co/stories/x4jf-ireland-s-universal-periodic-review-interim-report-2014

•     Today's submission by Ireland's Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, will be Ireland's first review by the UN Human Rights Council since Ireland itself took on a major diplomatic leadership role as a member of the UN Human Rights Council

•     The 'Interim Report' outlines the steps Ireland has taken since 2012 to meet human rights commitments made by Minister Alan Shatter to the Council in 2012. These included:

o     A commitment to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention Against Torture (OPCAT)

o     Progress on long-promised legislation such as the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill and the Gender Recognition Bill

o     A commitment to consider recognition of Travellers as an ethnic minority

o     Constitutional reform on amending the clause on women in the home

o     Enhanced efforts to combat racism, including an updated National Action Plan against Racism

•     This report is the first in a series of Irish government interactions with UN human rights supervision processes that will take place over the course of Ireland's membership of the UN Human Rights Council.  The ICCL is tracking the implementation of core human rights recommendations made to Ireland by these different processes through its legacy project. Further details are available here: http://www.rightsnow.ie/

•     The full text of the Government's interim report to the UN Human Rights Council can be found on the UN website here: http://lib.ohchr.org/HRBodies/UPR/Documents/session12/IE/Ireland_mid-termReview.doc

 

•     A stakeholder review report of Ireland's progress under the UPR process, complied by the ICCL, can be found here: http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G14/112/67/PDF/G1411267.pdf?OpenElement

 

•     An ICCL-produced compendium document which includes the Government's interim report to the UN Human Rights Council; a stakeholder review report of Ireland's progress under the UPR process, complied by the ICCL ; alongside a fully up to date 'Scorecard' of Ireland's implementation to date of its UPR commitments can be downloaded at http://www.rightsnow.ie/go/upr_2011/upr_1/upr_mid_term_report_2014/universal-periodic-review-of-ireland-interim-reporting-stage

 


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