Dublin, 13 June
Yesterday morning ICCL sent the following email to all Senators in advance of the Seanad debate on the Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill 2016.
From: Liam Herrick
Sent: 12 June 2019 11:04
Subject: ICCL Position on Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill – this afternoon
The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) shares the concerns of the Adoption Rights Alliance, and Dr. Maeve O’Rourke with regard to the Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill, which will be before the Seanad this afternoon.
We note that you have already received detailed submissions on the Bill from both the Alliance and Dr. O’Rourke, which ICCL endorses.
ICCL is particularly concerned that the Bill (and the newly introduced Governments Amendments) will:
- 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.
The proposed amendments remove the obligation on adopted persons to sign an undertaking before seeking information about their identity. This will have some positive effects, including in cases where the natural parents are deceased.
However, the proposed amendments would instead establish a process of searching for, notifying, and giving a right to object, to any natural parents of that adopted person before any information can be disclosed. This constitutes a disproportionate and unjustified obstacle to access to personal information. In practice, we believe such a scheme will lead to unworkable delays in accessing information – e.g. it is not clear what level of obligation will be on Tusla to take steps to locate natural parents, or within what time frame.
It is not clear that the proposed system of hearings and appeals where a parent resists an application for information is compatible with the provisions of the General Data Protection Regulation relating to the right to access personal data.
More fundamentally, this approach places the rights of the natural parent on a higher footing than the rights of the adopted person. The adopted person would have no discretion about their natural parent being informed about a request for information (violating their right to privacy), but the parent would have a say about the release of that information – information that is essentially the personal data of the adoptee.
The Government claims that its approach is based on “legal advice”, but fails to outline to the Oireachtas what law(s) it is relying on. ICCL believes that the approach being taken is informed by an over-emphasis on the privacy rights of natural parents and a disregard for the rights to respect for private and family life of the adopted persons.
ICCL believes that this Bill presents an an important opportunity to address an urgent and ongoing human rights violation – one affecting many thousands of Irish people. However, we believe that the approach being taken by the Government is flawed and we would ask you to consider carefully amendments being tabled which will address the defects we set out above, and those identified by the Adoption Rights Alliance and Dr. Maeve O’Rourke.
This email has been updated from its original version.