Ireland as a nation is struggling to come to terms with a legacy of State-sanctioned abuse which encompassed a wide range of human rights abuses including child trafficking, enforced disappearances and physical, sexual and emotional abuse. While the country has made huge progress in terms of talking about these things, and there has been an official State apology, there is a long way to go in terms of providing retribution and guarantees to survivors that this can never happen again. Not only that, but the architecture of confinement which was employed still has traces today in our nursing homes, our psychiatric hospitals and the direct provision centres used to house asylum seekers.
We can never allow institutional abuse to be repeated. That’s why we are calling for an end to Direct Provision.
ICCL recently made a submission to the Oireachtas Justice Committee’s consultation on the Direct Provision system. We added our voice to those voices already calling for an end to the system.
We identify that the system facilitates human rights violations, including of the right to dignity; the right to work; the right to education; the right to health; the right to respect for a private and family life; the right to effective access to the international protection system; and the right to access justice and a remedy for rights violations. The system may constitute arbitrary detention and may also violate the right to be free from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.
We’re calling on the government to allow independent inspection of all detention centres, including Direct Provision
ICCL has been calling for Ireland to ratify the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention Against Torture, known as the OPCAT, for many years. If ratified, this would oblige the government to establish a National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) which would independently inspect all places of detention in Ireland.
There is currently no independent inspection mechanism, including in places of “de facto” detention such as nursing homes or Direct Provision Centres.
We have provided reports to the UN Committee Against Torture
The ICCL’s report to the CAT in 2017 contributed to the CAT’s Concluding Observations along with the reports of numerous other NGOs working in Ireland.
In the follow-up report, the ICCL:
- Demands that Ireland ratify the UN Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and create a National Preventive Mechanism that independently inspects all places of detention in Ireland, including de facto detention in health and social care settings, and in Direct Provision.
- Calls for swift changes to the powers and functions of the Garda complaints mechanism, and criticises the secrecy that characterises many investigations into alleged Garda misconduct.
- Rejects the Government’s repeated claim that it knows of ‘no credible evidence’ that systematic torture or ill-treatment, or criminal abuse, was perpetrated in Magdalene Laundries and calls for a truth-telling process, and proper accountability and redress.
This report by the ICCL to the United Nations Committee Against Torture (CAT) forms part of the process of ‘follow-up’ to the CAT’s second set of Concluding Observations on Ireland, published in August 2017. The CAT designated three of the recommendations in its August 2017 Concluding Observations as ‘follow-up’ issues, requiring a response from the Irish Government within one year.
We provided expert information to the Department of Health for its Consultation on the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguard Proposals
ICCL welcomed the State’s long-overdue effort to establish legal safeguards to protect the rights of individuals who are or may be deprived of their liberty in care settings. Ireland has a long history of failing to prevent widespread arbitrary detention and mistreatment of people who depend on others and/or the State for care. The past few decades have been marked by repeated investigations into, and political and public expressions of alarm about, the State’s practice of supporting and allowing the care of adults and children in systems that are inadequately regulated, and in which there are weak or non-existent mechanisms for respecting individual rights and ensuring that complaints are heard and responded to. Successive governments have been pleaded with to provide sufficient alternatives to institutional care so that people are enabled to live independently and included in the community.
We’re calling for information for all survivors of institutional abuse
To mark the international day of enforced disappearances on 30 August, ICCL called on the State to provide statutory rights to information to all those who survived the Irish system, including all people who were forcibly separated from their family members through the closed, secret adoption system in Ireland, as well as the family members of children who died in institutional care. This means that the bodies of children in the Tuam grave must be exhumed as promised, identified, and all possible information about their circumstances of death given to their family members.
This press release echoed an earlier call we made for information to be provided to all those affected by enforced or illegal adoptions.
We’re calling on the State to provide information and records to all affected by forced and illegal adoption
In May 2018 we called on the Government to acknowledge fully the rights, particularly the right to information, of all people affected by Ireland’s system of forced and illegal adoption. This includes natural or birth parents, adopted people, and other family members of people forcibly separated through Mother and Baby Homes, adoption agencies, maternity hospitals, Magdalene Laundries and other institutions.
In June 2019 we wrote to Senators outlining our concerns that the Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill 2016 would fail to vindicate the human rights of adopted persons to effectively access information about their identity and potentially lead to further violations of the privacy rights of adopted persons.