Human Rights

Monitoring Human Rights

The ICCL plays a watchdog role by tracking the Government’s compliance with its obligations under human rights law and by ensuring that Ireland is held to account before international human rights bodies.

We regularly prepare legal analyses of proposed legislation or conduct original research on pressing issues to educate the public and decision-makers on gaps in human rights protection.

We also co-ordinate or contribute to NGO ‘shadow reports’ which are relied upon by human rights bodies to get an independent illustration of  Ireland’s compliance with its human rights obligations.

In some instances, the ICCL makes presentations directly to the United Nations (UN) and Council of Europe (COE) human rights bodies in order to inform their final conclusions on Ireland. The ICCL’s most recent activities on this front took us to Geneva where we and our NGO partners briefed the UN on Ireland’s compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

 

Some of our Current Special Projects and Campaigns:

Bringing Human Rights to Life

The ICCL works to improve the capacity of groups representing marginalised communities, in particular to support them to use human rights tools.

For example, the ICCL is working with Amnesty International (Irish Section) on a ‘shadow reporting’ kit to enhance the capacity of organisations to report to international treaty bodies.

Raising Awareness of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)

The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) is the regional human rights treaty of the Council of Europe. Ireland is one of 46 countries which have signed up to the ECHR and it was recently given further effect in Irish law through the ECHR Act 2003. The ICCL promotes awareness of this Act through its policy and research work, by delivering training on human rights proofing and producing information material on the ECHR.

Calling for Robust Privacy Standards

The ICCL campaigns to safeguard the right to private life in Ireland in accordance with Article 8 (right to private and family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights. Current laws protect some aspects of privacy but neglect others. The ICCL is conducting ongoing research on the gaps present in Ireland’s privacy regime.

We are also actively calling for the introduction of better safeguards of privacy in Ireland in the areas of data protection, surveillance and biometric identity. Most recently the ICCL campaigned at the 2008 Electric Picnic in Stradbally Co Laois, collecting over 3000 signatures for an open letter to Minister for Justice, calling for the introduction of robust laws for the protection of our privacy.

 

Watchdog welcomes UN call for constitutional reform on abortion

  • News Item
  • July 24, 2014
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 c...

Watchdog welcomes UN call for constitutional reform on abortion

  • Article
  • July 24, 2014

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:

Abortion

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.”

Symphysiotomy

“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:

Walter Jayawardene

Communications Manager

Irish Council for Civil Liberties

T: +353 87 9981574    E: walter.jayawardene@iccl.ie

And

 

Sarah Harte, DHR Communications

Tel: 01-4200580 / 087-9858259

sarah@dhr.ie

 

 

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

 

ICCL Wholeheartedly Endorses Coruscating UN Comments on Ireland

  • News Item
  • July 15, 2014
ICCL Press Release, for immediate release Dublin/Geneva – Tuesday 15 July 2014 #ICCPR Ireland’s independent human rights watchdog the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) has today ‘wholeheartedly’ endorsed the coruscating comments made b...

UN Experts Told Ireland Needs New Rights Protections

  • News Item
  • July 14, 2014
ICCL Press Release, for immediate release Dublin/Geneva - Monday 14 July 2014 #ICCPR This afternoon (Monday 14 July 2014) Ireland's independent human rights watchdog, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) will tell the UN's top human rights ex...

Media Advisory - Rights Groups Gather in Dublin as Ireland Faces UN in Geneva

  • News Item
  • July 11, 2014
Rights Groups Gather in Dublin as Ireland Faces UN in Geneva Media Advisory – For event taking place Monday 14 July 2014: -  ‘The Human Rights Green Room’, Goldsmith Hall, The Radisson Blu, Golden Lane, Dublin 2 from 2pm. - A live web screenin...

Voices of Displaced People Ring Out at ICCL Human Rights Film Awards

  • Article
  • June 26, 2014

Harmanli: Trapped on the Fringe of Freedom (ICCL Awards) from Niamh Heery on Vimeo.

 

Irish documentary maker Niamh Heery was awarded the Grand Prize in the 2014 Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) Human Rights Film Awards this evening (Thursday 26 June 2014) for her film Harmanli: Trapped on the Fringe of Freedom, which explores the lives of asylum seekers living in the Harmanli camp in Bulgaria.

Commenting on the winning film today, Awards Jury member and Emmy Award winning documentary filmmaker Pamela Yates said:

“Niamh Heery’s Harmanli: Trapped on the Fringe of Freedom celebrates the deep humanity of the asylum seekers in Harmanli, a world which for so many feels so remote. It is a worthy winner in an outstanding field of human rights documentaries”.

The Gala Screening and Awards ceremony, which took place to a full house in Screen 1 of Dublin’s Light House Cinema, saw Second Prize go to Spanish Director Nacho Gil’s A Thin Line, a poignant short film that examines the issue of homelessness on the streets of Valencia. Third place went to director Virginia Manchado for her film Modou Modou, which follows a day in the life of an African emigrant who lives and works in London as a market labourer.

Symphysiotomy Survivors Join Rights Groups in Major Report to UN

  • News Item
  • June 13, 2014
Press Release   Friday, 13 June 2014 The report can now be downloaded HERE. This morning (Friday, 13 June 2014), Ireland’s human rights watchdog, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) will launch a comprehensive review of Ireland’s perfor...

Intense European Scrutiny of Ireland's Abortion Law Still Needed says Watchdog

  • News Item
  • June 5, 2014
Intense European Scrutiny of Ireland's Abortion Law Still Needed says Watchdog Press Release For immediate release, Thursday 5 June 2014 In Strasbourg today (5 June 2014), the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe is carrying out its regula...

Film Greats Launch ICCL's Awards Shortlist

  • News Item
  • June 4, 2014
L-R ICCL Human Rights Film Awards Jury members Brian Gleeson, Nicky Phelan (Brown Bag Films), Conor McPherson and Lenny Abrahamson A Jury comprising some of Ireland’s leading filmmaking, screenwriting and acting talent met today (Wednesday 4 June ...

Film Greats Launch ICCL's Awards Shortlist

  • Article
  • June 4, 2014

Brian Gleeson, Nicky Phelan, Conor McPherson, Lenny Abrahamson

L-R ICCL Human Rights Film Awards Jury members Brian Gleeson, Nicky Phelan (Brown Bag Films), Conor McPherson and Lenny Abrahamson

A Jury comprising some of Ireland’s leading filmmaking, screenwriting and acting talent met today (Wednesday 4 June 2014) to announce the shortlist of six outstanding short film entries to the 2014 Irish Council for Civil Liberties Human Rights Film Awards.

The cream of international entries to Ireland’s only human rights-themed short film competition was announced at a photocall today in Dublin’s Smithfield by Awards Jury members, including Frank director Lenny Abrahamson, playwright and screenwriter Conor McPherson (I Went Down, The Actors, The Eclipse) and Love/Hate’s Brian Gleeson.

The shortlist consists of six hard-hitting documentaries that combine filmmaking with international human rights activism. Issues explored include homelessness, the arts and their impact on health, immigration, holocaust survivors, the land/food crisis in Guatamala and the plight of Syrian refugees.

The films are now available to view on the Awards website HERE. The ICCL will host a star-studded Gala screening of the six shortlisted films on 26 June 2014 in Dublin’s Light House Cinema.

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