IHREC publishes Policy Statement on System of Direct Provision

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) today published its Policy Statement on the System of Direct Provision in Ireland. The report sets out ten key recommendations.

Emily Logan, Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission said: “The aim of this policy statement is to add the voice of the Commission to the existing body of evidence around people living within the Direct Provision system for long periods of time. We focus on the particular human rights implications of such lengthy stays and wish to inform the deliberations of the Governmental Working Group on Direct Provision.”

Ms Logan continued “While a primary cause of the length of stay for residents in Direct Provision is due to systemic factors within the asylum process, it is the IHREC’s view that the system of Direct Provision is not in the best interests of children, has a significant impact on the right to family life and has failed to adequately protect the rights of those seeking protection in Ireland. If the current system continues to be used, it should be only for the shortest possible time, in keeping with human dignity and autonomy and in accordance with the highest safeguards of rights.”

Ms Logan concluded “While recognising many previous recommendations made by legal activists and civil society working with people in Direct Provision, the IHREC makes the following ten recommendations as a matter of priority. Although Direct Provision is sub-contracted to non-state actors, the IHREC’s recommendations are broad in nature and focus on the State’s accountability as duty bearer, answerable for the observance of human rights.”

 

Recommendations

  1. The IHREC supports the introduction of a ‘single protection procedure’ whereby a person seeking protection can apply for both refugee status and/or subsidiary protection in tandem. However adherence to due process, to natural and constitutional justice requirements, and to fair procedures should be taken into account in any modifications to existing mechanisms. The IHREC also recommends that those who are the subject of Deportation Orders which cannot be implemented are given leave to remain and serious consideration be given by the State to settling any cases which are subject to delay in High Court proceedings.
  2.  Delays in asylum adjudication should not be a reason for continued stay in such centres where alternatives to such accommodation exist. While the system remains in place, the IHREC recommends that the basis for Direct Provision be placed on a statutory footing and recommends the introduction of a time limited period (6-9 months) after which any person who has not yet received a decision, on either first instance or appeal, should be able to leave Direct Provision, live independently, access relevant social welfare payments and employment.
  3.  The IHREC is concerned at the lack of protection for the right to private and family life and for children. The IHREC recommends that existing families are moved out of Direct Provision Centres and enabled to access self-catering accommodation, at the earliest possible opportunity, and any new families are not accommodated in Direct Provision Centres.
  4. While recognising current resource constraints, the IHREC is concerned at the lack of personal autonomy afforded to residents in Direct Provision around the preparation of food. The Commission recommends respecting residents’ right to prepare and cook food appropriate to their culture, diet and individual needs during time spent in Direct Provision.
  5. The IHREC is concerned at the lack of protection for vulnerable persons within the system of Direct Provision. The IHREC recommends that victims of trafficking are accommodated in appropriate single gender facilities with access to a range of necessary support services, in keeping with the State’s obligations of prevention and obligations to provide support services to victims under the Council of Europe Convention on Action Against Trafficking and the 2011 EU Directive.
  6. Submissions from civil society organisations working in the area have consistently called for an increase to the weekly Direct Provision allowance of €19.10 per adult and €9.60 per child, which has not been increased since the year 2000. The IHREC awaits recommendations in relation to this from the government-led Working Group on Direct Provision and strongly recommends that the weekly allowance be increased to a realistic amount that ensures dignity, respect and autonomy for individuals.
  7. The IHREC is concerned that the internal complaints mechanism currently in place in Direct Provision centres, under the auspices of the Reception and Integration Agency, lacks independence and is not an appropriate and effective remedy for the purpose of ensuring adequate protection of residents, particularly given the delegation of a public function to private bodies. The IHREC recommends that an independent appeals mechanism, to include resident representation and independent members, is established to judge on complaints in relation to conditions, food, accommodation and other matters and the RIA ‘House Rules and Procedures’ document be revised as a matter of priority.
  8. The IHREC regards the effective exclusion of complaints regarding the asylum system and Direct Provision from the ambit of the Ombudsman and the Ombudsman for Children as being incompatible with the principle of non-discrimination. The IHREC supports the repeated calls from the Office of the Ombudsman and the Ombudsman for Children to extend their remit to include the investigation of issues relating to asylum processes (as against decisions of the asylum determination process).
  9. The IHREC recommends that Ireland should opt into the Recast Reception Conditions Directive of 2013 to ensure a minimum standard of provision for asylum seekers, leading to the practice that, after a period of 6-9 months, people seeking international protection should be able to leave Direct Provision, live independently, access appropriate social welfare payments and seek employment.
  10. The denial of a right to work for asylum seekers has a severe impact, particularly for those who have been in the asylum process for lengthy periods of time. The IHREC recommends that strong consideration be given to allowing Direct Provision residents to work and recommends that Direct Provision residents over the age of 18 receive education and training in preparation for seeking employment, once they leave the system.

ENDS/

For further information please contact Fidelma Joyce, IHREC, Tel: 01 8589601 Mob: 087 783 4939

 

Notes to Editor

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) was established by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014.[1] The Commission has a statutory remit to protect and promote human rights and equality in the State, to promote a culture of respect for human rights, equality and intercultural understanding and to promote understanding and awareness of the importance of human rights and equality.[2] The IHREC is tasked with reviewing the adequacy and effectiveness of law, policy and practice relating to the protection of human rights and equality and with making recommendations to Government on measures to strengthen, protect and uphold human rights and equality accordingly.[3]

 

 

 


[1] The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014 merged the former Irish Human Rights Commission and the former Equality Authority into a single enhanced body.

[2] Section 10(1)(a)-(e) of the 2014 Act.

[3] Section 10(2)(b) and section 10(2)(d) of the 2014 Act.

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