State criticised for failing to legislate for detainees’ right to lawyer

UN Committee against Torture also calls for urgent action over prison staff shortages

Human rights watchdog concerned that legislation to provide for right to a lawyer has been passed but still not implemented six years later

Human rights watchdog concerned that legislation to provide for right to a lawyer has been passed but still not implemented six years later

 

The UN Committee against Torture has criticised the Government for failing to implement legislation guaranteeing those in Garda custody the right to legal representation.

The human rights watchdog is concerned that while the right to a lawyer is included in the “police code of practice”, legislation to provide for the right to a lawyer has been passed but still not implemented six years later.

It is also concerned at the lack of rigorous, centralised and accurate keeping of detention records in Garda stations and at the failure to use closed-circuit monitoring of interview rooms.

It calls for the effectiveness and independence of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission to be strengthened and expresses concern that complaints are referred back to gardaí, “which amounts to the police investigating itself”.

And it calls on the State to expedite the establishment of an independent authority that can inspect Garda stations and monitor detentions.

It also recommended that the prison inspectorate be adequately resourced to allow it to properly inspect and report on all places of detention.

The committee also called on the State to urgently deal with prison staff shortages, including medical and psychiatric personnel, and to undertake a fundamental review of deficiencies in the prison healthcare system.

The committee wants the State to ensure solitary confinement remains a “measure of last resort” and said it must never be used for juveniles.

Review of human rights The human rights watchdog was making concluding observations on its review of Ireland’s human rights record following oral hearings in Geneva last month.

It called on the Government to expedite the commencement of section 9 of the 2011 Criminal Justice Act to ensure access to a lawyer, including during the initial interview and police interrogation, is respected “in law as well as in practice”.

It also calls on the State to expedite the drafting and implementation of legislation to establish an independent body charged with “inspecting police stations and monitoring the provision by police of all fundamental safeguards against torture”.

The committee also makes recommendations about the treatment of asylum seekers and said their detention “should be used as a measure of last resort”, in appropriate facilities and not with remand and convicted prisoners.