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The UN says Ireland's prisons are 'inhuman'

“Chronic” overcrowding, “poor” cell conditions and the “inhuman” practice of slopping out – the UN says our prisons really need to step up.

THE UN HAS strongly criticised Ireland’s prisons, citing the “chronic” overcrowding and the “inhuman” practice of slopping out.

The United Nations Human Rights Committee said Ireland is overusing prison as a punishment, noting that last year the vast majority of prisoners – 89% – were serving sentences of less than 12 months.

The comments were made as Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald appeared before the UN to answer questions about the State’s human rights record, including abortion, symphysiotomy, direct provision and blasphemy, as well as prisons.

An estimated 334 prisoners are still slopping out in prisons around the country, meaning that they have to use a bucket as a toilet. The figure has dropped by two-thirds in the past four years, but Ireland is one of the few developed countries which still allows the practice.

The Irish Penal Reform Trust said the UN was putting pressure on the State to met its international human rights obligations and transfer all remaining remanded 17-yearolds from adult prisons to appropriate facilities in the next three months.

However IPRT director Deirdre Malone said the Minister did not answer questions about the prisoner-on-prisoner violence in jail.

“We were disappointed that despite being questioned on two occasions by the Committee in respect to “dangerous levels” of inter-prisoner violence, the State did not provide any response on this issue at the hearing,” said Malone. “We will be following this up directly with the Minister”.

Read: More than 300 prisoners are still slopping out > 

Read: ‘One suicide within prison is too many’ > 

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