Press Release: IHREC (Designate) calls for more accountability in the Irish Prison System on the publication of the Gary Douche Report

Press release

IHREC (Designate) calls for more accountability in the Irish Prison System on the publication of the Gary Douche Report

2 May 2014

The IHREC (Designate) welcomes the long awaited publication of the Report of the Commission of Investigation into the Death of Gary Douche. The Report documents the findings and conclusions of the independent investigation into the violent death of a prisoner in Mountjoy Prison in 2006, by another prisoner, who had a history of mental illness and documented propensity to violence.

Mr David Joyce, Acting Chair of the IHREC (Designate) today commented on the contents of the Report: "We welcome the Report for its detailed and insightful examination of what happened in the time leading up to the tragic and preventable death of Mr Gary Douche. The findings of this Report are very extensive, and require detailed examination and response from the State agencies involved, particularly the Irish Prison Service. The IHREC (Designate) has previously expressed concerns (as the Irish Human Rights Commission (IHRC)) in relation to the prevention of foreseeable deaths and the effective investigation of suspicious deaths which are both human rights obligations on the State under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The IHRC has previously highlighted concerns regarding the treatment of vulnerable prisoners in particular those with a mental health problems and victims of inter-prisoner violence, including obligations on the State not to expose prisoners to the risk of attack including the late Mr Gary Douche.This Report also documents one of the more extreme outcomes of the failure to properly address the mental health needs of individuals in the prison system, and echoes the concerns of the IHRC in this regard. This is a fundamental human rights and equality issue. Mental health services are often neglected as part of our public health service, and despite the best efforts of those involved, prisoners with mental health problems are not receiving the services they so urgently need. The acute lack of spaces in the Central Mental Hospital is an obvious example."

Mr Joyce went on to state "Aside from the issue of mental health services, this report documents a wide range of systems failures within the Irish Prison Service that require to be addressed. One of the key ways of addressing such failures is to increase transparency and accountability. In this regard the Report recommends that the establishment of the Office of Prison Ombudsman with a statutory remit to investigate prisoner complaints be considered. In addition the Report expresses concern that the Inspector of Prisons does not have the relevant statutory powers or resources to investigate deaths in prison, as he has been tasked to do, and questions whether the State is fulfilling its obligations under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights to promptly and independently investigate suspicious deaths in custody. These are two extremely important recommendations from the perspective of the State’s human rights obligations, and the IHREC (designate) would endorse those views, and call for immediate reform in this area."

 

Notes to Editor:
The IHRC made a submission Inter-Departmental Group on Persons with Mental Illness and Interactions with the Criminal Justice System, in May 2012. Find the submission here. The Inter-Departmental Group is due to [publish its report in three months time.
The IHRC has raised the issue of conditions of detention in its Submission to the UN Human Rights Committee on Ireland’s Fourth Periodic Report under the ICCPR – List of Issues Stage,
in August 2013. See here for the questions that the State has been asked to address by the Human Rights Committee, including in relation to the system for dealing with prisoner complaints.
The IHRC made extensive reference to conditions in Irish Prisons in its Shadow Report to the UN Committee Against Torture in 2011, highlighting many of the issues also documented in the Report of the Commission of Investigation into the Death of Gary Douche.

For further information please contact Fidelma Joyce on 087 7834939

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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