Ireland is at a critical moment for the protection of human rights and civil liberties. Important achievements have been secured after long years of campaigning – in the areas of discrimination and equality, including the achievement of marriage equality; in the area of justice reform, where police accountability has been strengthened; and in relation to the implementation of human rights standards, where important progress has been made in relation to EU and Council of Europe standards and where a strong and well-resourced Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is now in place.
Despite this period of great progress, many challenges remain. In the realm of equality, women still do not enjoy full autonomy in their reproductive choices. Garda reform is more urgent than ever. The BREXIT vote in the United Kingdom and the proposed row-back on the UK Human Rights Act pose very direct threats to human rights on the island of Ireland. New dangers are also emerging with the potential of new technologies for mass surveillance. This is a moment when the advancement of our hard-fought human rights protections is more important than ever.
As an expert body in Irish and international human rights law, ICCL is forty years standing as an independent voice to protect human rights – including at times when the political climate was often hostile to LGBTI rights, to the rights of suspects, and to women’s rights and children’s rights. Fully independent of government and fearless in our advocacy for human rights, Ireland is a freer and more equal society today because of ICCL’s work.
We now have in place in Ireland important mechanisms for advancing and protecting rights, many secured through ICCL’s work. ICCL uses these mechanisms and our capacity and resources to ensure that we meet and overcome these global and regional challenges, and that in Ireland the constitutional and legislative protections for civil liberties and human rights are strengthened.
We are continuing our work in monitoring all legislation and policy proposals that impact on human rights in Ireland, including by continuing to advocate for the ratification by Ireland of all international human rights treaties. We are strengthening our role in leading and influencing public debate as an independent and principled voice for human rights and civil liberties. We continue to position ourselves as an essential leader of Ireland’s human rights community through connecting the protection of human rights in Ireland to international human rights mechanisms and networks.
We are domestically focussed but internationally informed. We work closely with partner organisations across Ireland and in many other countries. We are one of 13 members of the International Network of Civil Liberties Organisations (INCLO), and our work draws on our relationships with human rights leaders in all parts of the world.