Human Rights and Equality Update - Issue 11 2019
Issue 11 2019

Ireland's appearance this week before the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has been a key recent focus for the Commission, as the State's national human rights and equality institution. 

Commission Members Salome Mbugua and Tony Geoghegan led the Commission delegation to the two-day session in Geneva.

Ahead of the hearing, the Commission published its independent report to the UN, setting out how the State is failing to sufficiently tackle racism and discrimination and to live up to its international human rights obligations to combat racial discrimination.

Back in Dublin, we welcomed high-level representatives of regulatory and oversight bodies for a focused discussion on implementing the Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Duty in a regulatory setting.

In the Courts, the Commission welcomed the Supreme Court judgment in the Celmer case focusing on the right to a fair trial. Separately, the Commission published its legal submissions in a Supreme Court case exploring family rights.  

Read on for more on our work, events and significant human rights and equality issues in Ireland.


UN examines Ireland
Tackling racial discrimination–Ireland under scrutiny 


The State is failing to sufficiently tackle racism and discrimination and to live up to its international human rights obligations in combatting racial discrimination, the Commission reported to the UN this week. 

A comprehensive report published by the Commission assesses Ireland’s performance since 2011 on combatting racial discrimination, making over 150 recommendations for State action. The report was provided to UN experts to inform their questioning of Ireland in Geneva on 2-3 December on how the State is meeting its obligations under the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. 

Commission's Submission to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on Ireland's Combined 5th to 9th report.
Dedicated CERD resource page with factsheets for download

Related media
Irish Times article
Irish Examiner opinion editorial by Commission Member Salome Mbugua
RTÉ Radio 1–interview with Commission Member Salome Mbugua
Commission media release


Public Sector Duty
Regulators and oversight roundtable

Senior representatives from over 40 regulatory and oversight bodies participated in an event focused on understanding the statutory obligation to implement the Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Duty. The Duty requires public bodies to assess, address and report on progress in relation to equality and human rights.

The event included keynote presentations from international and national speakers, including HM Inspector of Constabulary and of Fire and Rescue Services Wendy Williams and Director General of the Office of the Ombudsman Elaine Cassidy.

Dedicated Public Sector Duty webpage - guidance, FAQ & case studies
Implementing the Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Duty [English]
Dualgas na hEarnála Poiblí um Chomhionannas agus Cearta an Duine a chur i bhfeidhm [Gaeilge]

Supreme Court judgment
Clarity in significant right to fair trial case


The Commission welcomed the Supreme Court judgment in an internationally significant case Artur Celmer v. Minister for Justice relating to the European Arrest Warrants system and the right to a fair trial. The Commission exercised its amicus curiae function in the case.

The case centres on the requested extradition of Mr. Artur Celmer, a Polish national, to Poland under the European Arrest Warrant system. Mr. Celmer argued that recent legislative changes in Poland on the independence of the judiciary, the courts and the Public Prosecutor undermined the possibility of him receiving a fair trial.

In its judgment, the Supreme Court held that independence of the judiciary forms part of the essence of the fundamental right to a fair trial. However in Mr. Celmer’s case, while the systemic changes in Poland were viewed as serious and grave, they could not themselves be sufficient to cross the threshold of a real risk of breaching his right to a fair trial.

Commission submissions Artur Celmer v Minister for Justice and Equality

Related media
Irish Times article
Irish Legal News article
Commission media release

Supreme Court hearing
Assessment of children's housing challenged  

The Commission exercised its amicus curiae function before the Supreme Court in a case Fagan v. Dublin City Council which seeks to clarify how separated parents exercising joint custody of their children are treated when applying for social housing assistance under the Housing Act 2009.

In its submission the Commission cites rights under the Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights in relation to family life, parental and children’s rights, and the Council’s obligations as a public body to implement these rights.

Commission's legal submissions–Fagan v Dublin City Council 

Related media
Irish Legal News article
Commission media release

Video: Reasonable Accommodation  
Conference material now available online

On 7 October, World Day for Decent Work, the Commission hosted a packed event entitled Achieving Equality in Workplace: Reasonable Accommodation in Practice bringing together 150 public and private sector employers, trade unions, people with disabilities and civil society organisations.

Videos, presentations and other resources from the event are now available on the conference webpage. 

Reasonable Accommodation in Practice conference resources

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