IHRC welcomes decision of European Court of Human Rights granting it permission to intervene in Irish inquest case as Amicus Curiae

The Irish Human Rights Commission (IHRC) has today welcomed the decision of the European Court of Human Rights granting it permission to intervene in the case of Magee v Ireland (Application no. 53743/09) as amicus curiae. The case concerns the denial of legal aid for inquest proceedings to the mother of a man who died in Garda Custody in 2002.

Mrs Magee commenced proceedings in the High Court against the Coroner, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Ireland and the Attorney General claiming that their failure to provide publicly funded legal representation was a breach of her constitutional rights and her rights under the European Convention on Human Rights. Mrs Magee sought a number of reliefs, including an order directing the provision to her of legal aid in respect of the inquest.

The High Court held that fair procedures under Article 38 of the Constitution required legal aid be provided to Mrs Magee for the purpose of being adequately represented at the inquest. The Court ordered that she be provided with publicly funded legal representation in respect of the inquest.

However, on appeal to the Supreme Court, the High Court order was overturned, with the Supreme Court finding that there was no entitlement to State funded legal representation at an inquest. Mrs Magee then made an application to the European Court of Human Rights. In January 2011, the IHRC applied to the European Court to appear in the case as amicus curiae/third party intervenor, which request was granted today.

The IHRC is to make its submissions to the Court by 8 March 2011.


For further information, please contact:
Fidelma Joyce, Irish Human Rights Commission: Tel: 01 8589601

Notes to the Editor

Section 2 of the Human Rights Commission Act, 2000 defines "human rights" to include those rights conferred on or guaranteed to persons under the Constitution and under any agreement, treaty or convention to which the State is a party.

This will be the IHRC’s second intervention before the European Court in recent months in a case concerning Ireland. Its previous intervention was in the case of O’Keefe v Ireland which concerns whether the State has responsibility under the European Convention on Human Rights for the abuse of a child in a primary school by a school principal. That case is currently pending before the European Court.

See IHRC submission

The IHRC has also intervened before the European Court on two occasions in joint submissions on behalf of the European Group of National Human Rights Institutions.

On 14 February 2012 the European Court ruled in the first of these cases entitled DD v Lithuania, that the applicant’s rights had been violated, a ruling welcomed by the IHRC. The case concerned the placement of a Lithuanian national into a social care home for the mentally handicapped. On being placed in the home she was automatically stripped of her legal capacity. Her confinement and forced treatment in the Social Care Home was unlawful and violated several articles of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), including Article 5 (freedom from arbitrary detention) and Article 6 (right to a fair trial).

The second regional intervention of the IHRC was in August 2011 at which time the IHRC made a third party amicus curiae intervention in the case of Gauer v France on behalf of the European Group of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs). The submission focused on the international standards on protecting women and girls with an intellectual disability from intrusive procedures such as sterilisation including in light of the provisions of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The case is pending before the European Court. This intervention was a collaboration between a number of National Human Rights Institutions across Europe including the French Commission nationale consultative des droits de l’homme (CNCDH).

See joint submission (at bottom)

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