Human Rights and Equality Concerns Highlighted to Commission on the Future of Policing - IHREC - Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission

Human Rights and Equality Concerns Highlighted to Commission on the Future of Policing

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (“the Commission”) has today published its formal input to the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland.

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission as Ireland’s National Human Rights and Equality body was invited to make its submission by the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland given the centrality of human rights and equality issues to policing.

In its report, the Commission notes progress made across a number of human rights and equality issues in policing, such as the Garda Racial and Intercultural and Diversity Office now having over 270 Diversity Officers working nationwide, and the establishment of the Garda Victim Services Offices, among other steps forward.

The report addresses key areas for the attention of the Commission on the Future of Policing, and makes recommendations across human rights and equality issues:

  • Victims rights – practice must be strengthened, with provision of timely, meaningful and accessible information to victims, consistency of high quality victim supports, protection against repeat and secondary victimisation and effective remedy.
  • Diversity in policing – further action and a targeted strategy are required to encourage the recruitment, retention and progression of a more diverse Garda service.
  • Human rights and equality training –  provision needs to be central to the training of new police staff and the continuous training of personnel. Shortcomings in human rights and equality training in Ireland’s police force has been repeatedly highlighted by UN human rights monitoring bodies.
  • Racial profiling –   Such profiling in any form is unacceptable and should be dealt with appropriately. Protocols and cultural competence training for An Garda Síochána are recommended to be put in place.
  • The Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Duty – the implementation of the statutory Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Duty provides the opportunity for human rights and equality standards to be embedded in policing, and for existing Garda policies and practices to be equality and human rights proofed, and made accessible to the public.
  • Recording and investigation of domestic violence and hate crime – Gardaí need to be equipped to understand, recognise and investigate all instances of hate crime and crimes with a human rights and equality dimension. CSO figures from 2015 found that 26% of domestic violence incidents were not reported on the PULSE system, also the recording of racists incidents has been found by An Garda Síochána Inspectorate to be ‘very low’.
  • Covert surveillance – further regulation is required in law to ensure compliance with human rights standards. This builds on the Commission’s submission to the Murray Review on access to Communications Data, in which the Commission highlighted that almost two requests for access to data per hour were being made. Independent oversight and access to remedy must be incorporated into the legal framework.
  • The right to a lawyer during questioning – this access should be placed on a legislative basis to protect the right to a fair trial.
  • Independence and democratic oversight – it is reiterated that the State minimise political influence in operational aspects of the work of An Garda Síochána, and that existing police complaints mechanisms are strengthened, noting GSOC proposals.
  • Optional Protocol to the UN Convention Against Torture (OPCAT) – the State should ratify OPCAT and establish an independent National Preventative Mechanism (NPM) which would incorporate provision for unannounced visits to Garda stations.
  • Appointment of an independent human rights advisor to the Policing Authority – following from experience in Northern Ireland, this would ensure oversight of the implementation of human rights and equality standards in policing.

Emily Logan, Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission stated:

“Across areas such as protecting victims’ rights, ensuring diversity in our policing, and seeing hate crime properly recorded and investigated, the Commission is clear that human rights and equality standards and practices, if properly and fundamentally embedded, will help strengthen our police force and reinforce community support for policing.

“The Commission welcomes the opportunity to support the valuable work of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland.”

ENDS/

For further information, please contact:

Brian Dawson, IHREC Communications Manager,

01 8589601 / 087 0697095

bdawson@ihrec.ie

Follow us on twitter @_IHREC

Notes to editor:

The full text of the submission made by the Commission to the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland is available at the following link:

https://www.ihrec.ie/app/uploads/2018/02/Submission-to-the-Commission-on-the-Future-of-Policing.pdf

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.