IHRC welcomes new Standards for Prisons and calls on the Prison Services to implement them

The Irish Human Rights Commission (IHRC) today warmly welcomed the recently published Standards for the Inspection of Prisons by the Inspector of Prisons, Judge Michael Reilly.

Dr. Maurice Manning, President of the IHRC said "the Inspector has based his standards on international human rights treaties and norms which set down best practice for the treatment of prisoners and the management of prisons. I believe the Inspector’s standards are an extremely important contribution to begin the improvement of conditions in our prisons and I urge the Irish Prison Service and all other relevant agencies to use these standards as benchmarks to ensure that Ireland is meeting its international human rights obligations."

Dr. Manning continued, "the Inspector is empowered to carry out both announced and unannounced prison inspections and his role is of vital importance to ensure the transparent and accountable running of prisons in a manner that complies with human rights standards".

In publishing these standards, the Inspector stated that he wishes to ensure that the Irish Prison Service, prison management, prison officers, prisoners, those who provide services to prisoners, prison visitors and the general public will be aware of the standards that he wishes to see implemented in prisons when he is carrying out inspection visits. Importantly, the Inspector recalled that the deprivation of liberty is a punishment in itself and should not lead to prisoners being deprived of their human rights when they are put in prison.

The IHRC has been active in calling on the Government to ratify the United Nations Optional Protocol to the UN Convention Against Torture which would require the Government to designate an independent inspection mechanism for all places of detention including prisons, police stations, mental health institutions and child detention schools.

Mr. Éamonn McAodha, Chief Executive of the IHRC said "ratifying the Optional Protocol is crucial to consolidate and strengthen the existing work of the carried out in Ireland to inspect prisons, including the important work of the Inspector of Prisons and to ensure that all places where people are deprived of their liberty are subject to independent inspection. International human standards and best practice stipulate that a system of independent monitoring should be established so that transparency and accountability of the prison service can be achieved and to ensure that prisoners’ human rights are not violated. The IHRC strongly supports the Inspector in this and further initiatives for the setting of standards for Irish prisons and reiterates its call on the Government to ratify the Optional Protocol."

ENDS/

For further information please contact Kirsten Roberts, IHRC, Tel: 01 8589601

Notes to Editor

For report on Standards for the Inspection of Prisons in Ireland www.inspectorofprisons.gov.ie/

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