Wednesday July 16th 2008
UN human rights panel raises fears over Irish policies
JOHN ZAROCOSTAS in Geneva
AN INDEPENDENT UN human rights expert panel has raised concerns over some of Ireland’s policies on the treatment of asylum-seekers and imprisonment for civil debt.
On a positive note, Ireland was commended by some experts such as Christine Chanet for the creation of the Irish Human Rights Commission and moves to protect the rights of same sex couples.
The Irish delegation stressed the constitutional constraints related to the issue.
Video recording of interrogations was also a good development, Ms Chanet said.
During a two-day review of Irelands human rights track record, experts from the independent human right committee meeting at the historic Palais Wilson – (the seat of the League of Nations which was superseded after World War II by the UN) voiced their apprehensions over some of Ireland’s policies.
An issue of major concern were some of Ireland’s practices related to the detention of asylum seekers which under the Immigration Act of 2003 that had increased the period of detention from 10 up to 21 days.
The detention of asylum applicants in prisons was also critically examined as was the issue of overcrowding and other aspects such as being locked in cells for more than 17 hours a day.
The periodic review of Ireland’s policies is part of its obligations as one of the 161 state parties and 70 signatories to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Detention in custody for up to 72 hours without charges was also identified as an issue of concern.
The experts took particular interest in the imprisonment of persons on matters related to civil debt which is in breach of the covenant statutes.
Moreover, Prof Iulia Motoc of Romania, asked when Ireland would apply the principle of the covenant to same sex relationships.
The Romanian expert also inquired about the problem of domestic violence, problems related to trafficking and also noted corporal punishment “still happens” in the country.
The problems women faced in getting an abortion was also raised by quite a number of panellists