1 October 2020
This Friday, 2 October 2020, marks 13 years since Ireland signed but did not ratify the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention Against Torture (OPCAT). That is 13 years where Ireland has promised to prevent torture and ill-treatment but not taken the actual steps to ensure it doesn’t happen.
The Irish Council for Civil Liberties will mark this less-than-auspicious occasion with a new campaign “Where Everyone is Safe”. The campaign will urge the government and the Department of Justice to finally ensure that everyone living in penal, institutional or residential settings in the State is safe.
ICCL Executive Director Liam Herrick said:
We all want to live in a country where everyone is safe. But if someone is subject to ill-treatment in a residential, penal, or institutional setting, their options for complaint are limited. Significantly, there are no unannounced independent inspections focused on people’s right to be free from torture or any other form of ill treatment. In a country with a history like ours, that has to change.
Ratifying OPCAT, or writing it into Irish law, would mean that the State would be obliged to create a National Preventive Mechanism which would oversee unannounced independent inspections and complaints procedures in any setting where people are detained against their will. Understood very broadly, this could include Direct Provision centres, nursing homes, psychiatric institutions and other residential settings. The inspectors would be empowered to make binding recommendations that the Government would be obliged to implement.
ICCL has been campaigning for ratification of OPCAT for 13 years. It sits alongside our work on institutional abuse and our campaign to end Direct Provision and replace it with a system that fully respects the rights of people seeking international protection.
The Irish Council for Civil Liberties is Ireland’s oldest independent human rights monitoring organisation. We monitor, educate and campaign for all human rights for everyone.