UN urged to examine Irish human rights lapses

 

CALLS FOR improved prison conditions, better foster service inspections and the introduction of full civil marriage for gay couples are among the submissions to be considered during the next UN periodic review.

The United Nations Human Rights Council has received submissions on behalf of 60 Irish organisations to be considered by the working group on the universal periodic review which is due to take place in Geneva in October.

The Irish Human Rights Council and Amnesty International made submissions in which they cited unsatisfactory prison conditions including overcrowding, inadequate sanitation and health care and inter-prisoner violence while a number of stakeholders recommended the ending of the practice of “slopping out” in prisons.

The council recommended there should be an increased policy focus on the development of alternative, non-custodial sanctions rather than an increase in overall prison capacity.

It also submitted that an administrative residency scheme be introduced for the families of Irish citizen children in response to a recent European Court of Justice judgment which ruled that the non-EU parents of an EU citizen child must be allowed to live and work in that member state.

The Your Rights, Right Now coalition, made up of 17 bodies, recommended that Ireland introduce full civil marriage for same-sex couples while the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network also raised issues relating to the rights of children being parented by same-sex couples. It also submitted that “disproportionate cuts to the already modest budgets of the Irish Human Rights Commission and the Equality Authority had further constrained their independence and efficiency” and recommended that the budgets of both bodies be restored to 2008 levels.

It submitted that the functions of the National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism, which monitored racist incidents, and the Combat Poverty Agency, both of which were closed in recent years, be entrusted to another independent State agency.

Among the coalition’s other recommendations were that Ireland establish an independent complaints system for prisoners, migrants and people claiming asylum.

The Ombudsman for Children’s office submitted that all necessary legislative steps be taken to allow the Health Information and Quality Authority to carry out independent inspections of all residential and foster care services for children, including residential and respite services for children with disabilities.

The Irish Penal Reform Trust recommended that the remit of the Ombudsman for Children’s Office be extended to allow individual complaints from children held in prison and in detention.

Shell to Sea made a submission regarding the policing of the protests around the Corrib Gas Project and the conditions of the arrest and detention of some protesters.

Other submissions raised issues surrounding the length of time asylum seekers remain in direct provision accommodation and issues arising from the habitual residency condition which requires those applying for social welfare services prove that Ireland is their main centre of interest.

The campaign group Noise is holding a demonstration in Dublin tomorrow calling for the Government to lift the ban on same-sex marriage. The march starts at 3pm at City Hall, arriving at the Department of Justice, St Stephen’s Green, at 4.30pm.