Shadow report highlights concerns about Ireland’s compliance with UN human rights standards

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties, the Free Legal Advice Centre and the Irish Penal Reform Trust today published a Shadow Report on Ireland’s compliance with the International Protocol on Civil and Political Rights. The report was launched by Justice Michael Kirby of the Australian High Court is timed to coincide with the third periodic report by Ireland to the UN Human Rights Committee. In addition to the report of the member state on its human rights situation the procedure also allows NGOs and national human rights institutions to present their own views on the national human rights situation. For NGOs, the opportunity to present shadow reports to the committee amounts to a key opportunity to voice their human rights concerns and criticisms at an international level.

The Shadow Report to the Third Periodic Report of Ireland under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights highlights what the organisations say are significant gaps in the country’s human rights performance. Particular attention is drawn to the following issues:

  • Collusion regarding extraordinary rendition of prisoners by the CIA, the government is criticised for its failure to carry out searches of flights suspected of carrying unlawful prisoners
  • The failure to provide for full equality for all families, with legal status only being accorded to those families based on marriage ignoring non-traditional families
  • Ireland’s policy on abortion, in particular the Government’s failure to protect the health of women by not introducing legislation aimed at clarifying the legal implications of the various constitutional referendums is the cause of concern
  • Poor conditions of detention in prisons, including the continued use of slopping-out in four prisons, increasing overcrowding in Mountjoy and the Dochas Centre, and the fear that a new prison at Thornton Hall will result in an increase in the prison population
  • The persistence of imprisonment for debt, reform of the law is called for to amend the law on contempt
  • The absence of universal child benefit, attention is drawn to the fact that the ‘habitual residence’ condition in the child benefit system has a significant negative impact on children of asylum seekers.

The report was presented to the Human Rights Committee whose members raised questions regarding abortion, imprisonment and sentencing, immigration, religious control of education, and ethnicity and travellers.