SURVIVOR ADVOCACY GROUP Justice for Magdalenes (JFM) has made a submission to a United Nations committee in relation to the government’s planned redress process.
JFM raised some of its concerns with the UN Committee Against Torture (UNCAT), the body that previously pressed the State to examine its involvement in the laundries.
The organisation noted, “The government has not yet complied with the Committee’s June 2011 Recommendation to ‘ensure that all victims obtain redress and have an enforceable right to compensation, including the means for as full rehabilitation as possible’.”
JFM acknowledges and welcomes the government’s apology on 19 February and its appointment of Justice John Quirke. Nonetheless, JFM remains concerned that the women’s rights to reparation and redress have not yet been vindicated by the government.
It has asked the committee to monitor the design and implementation of the reparations process and to make further recommendations to the Irish government. Justice Quirke has been tasked with taking the findings of the McAleese Report into State involvement at the laundries and report back with recommendations on the establishment of an ex-gratia scheme for survivors.
JFM has already queried some aspects of the process with elected representatives. It has asked if Justice Quirke’s three-month review will be on a statutory footing with independent powers and what form an appeals process, if any, will take.
The group also reiterated calls for a helpline and dedicated unit to be set up in the Department of Justice for the vulnerable population of survivors.
In relation to institutionalised survivors, JFM asked, “What measures are being put in place to help this particularly vulnerable group of women to engage with the registration and reparations process?
“Will a guardian ad litem or independent advocate be provided for those who need one? What plans are in place to ensure permanent advocacy for these survivors in their places of residence?”
There are also queries with regard to deceased women and their families.
“Will measures be put in place to assist family members engage with the redress scheme? Will they have access to their relative’s records? What steps are being taken to ensure grave records are accurate and up to date?”
Among other questions posed by the group were enquiries about reaching out to women who have emigrated and the impact of redress on current benefits being received by survivors.
JFM revealed that some survivors are yet to receive a copy of the report as they have no internet access.
To conclude its submission, the organisation added, “JFM believes that the Committee’s expert input is necessary to ensure that the forthcoming reparations process is independent, open, transparent, accessible and fair. Crucially, this process must provide justice to the women, by responding to the full extent of the human rights violations that they suffered.”
Representatives from JFM are to meet Justice Quirke on Wednesday.