Commission Assists Supreme Court in Important Case Relating to the Rights of the Child - IHREC - Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission

Commission Assists Supreme Court in Important Case Relating to the Rights of the Child

Commission’s Amicus Curiae Legal Submissions Published Following Hearing

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (‘the Commission’) has published written legal submissions made to the Supreme Court in exercise of its amicus curiae (‘friend of the court’) function. The Commission appeared before the Court in the case of In the Matter of JJ, which concerned medical treatment, the rights of the child and the rights of minor wards of court.

The case focused on the medical treatment of John (not his real name), an eleven year old boy who suffered life changing neurological injuries in an accident. The hospital treating John had obtained permission from the High Court to follow a course of treatment with which John’s parents do not agree. The High Court order allowed the hospital, if deemed appropriate by John’s medical team, to administer medication that could impact the boy’s respiratory function. The High Court further held that his medical team could if they deemed appropriate withhold certain treatments, including admission to an Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

The Commission did not take a view as to what treatment John should or should not receive. Rather, the Commission argued that any decision in respect of John’s treatment had to be made in a manner that balanced and protected his constitutional rights as a child, with due regard to the rights of his parents.

A five judge panel of the Supreme Court heard the case by remote means over three days this week. There were six parties before the court, including separate barristers for each of the boy’s parents, and a Guardian Ad Litem, whose function is to represent the best interests of a child to the Court.

The Commission queried whether the decision to make John a ward of court was a proportionate interference with his rights in circumstances where, the Commission argued, it removed decision making capacity from his parents.

The Commission’s involvement in the case builds on previous amicus curiae interventions in the area of wardship including C v Cork University Hospital and Ors.

Sinéad Gibney, Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission stated:

The Commission made itself available to the Court in this case given the importance and the sensitivities of the issues at hand.

“This case involved an extensive examination of the new constitutional provisions relating to the rights of the child introduced into law in 2015 following a referendum. We are mindful that at the centre of this case is a family in very difficult personal circumstances.”

ENDS/

For further information, please contact:

Brian Dawson, IHREC Communications Manager,

01 8589601 / 087 0697095

bdawson@ihrec.ie

Follow us on twitter @_IHREC

Editor’s Note

As the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is formally involved in the proceedings, we are precluded from making any further comment until the Supreme Court makes its decision.

The written submissions made by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission to the Supreme Court are available at the following link:

Legal Submission In the Matter of JJ

The amicus curiae function of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission.

The Commission’s functions under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014 include that of applying for liberty to appear as an amicus curiae (friend of the court) before the superior courts in proceedings that involve, or are concerned with, the human rights or equality rights of any person.

Section 10 of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act sets out the functions of the Commission and Section 10(2)(e) provides that the IHREC shall have a function:

“to apply to the High Court or the Supreme Court for liberty to appear before the High Court or the Supreme Court, as the case may be, as amicus curiae in proceedings before that Court that involve or are concerned with the human rights or equality rights of any person and to appear as such an amicus curiae on foot of such liberty being granted (which liberty each of the said courts is hereby empowered to grant in its absolute discretion).”

Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is an independent public body, appointed by the President and directly accountable to the Oireachtas. The Commission has a statutory remit set out under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act (2014) to protect and promote human rights and equality in Ireland, and build a culture of respect for human rights, equality and intercultural understanding in the State.

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is Ireland’s national human rights institution and is recognised as such by the United Nations. The Commission is also Ireland’s national equality body for the purpose of a range of EU anti-discrimination measures.

 

 

 

 

 

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