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From GSOC to asylum seekers, what are Ireland's human rights failings?

And we have to address them all before a United Nations committee next month.

THE STATE WILL appear before a United Nations committee to address outstanding human rights issues, detailed in a new report.

These include “difficulty in conducting effective and timely investigations which meet human rights standards and can lead to adequate redress for victims”.

It must also address concerns surrounding the asylum system, direct provision, and ministerial interference in GSOC.

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Designate (IHREC Designate) has published its report to the UN Human Rights Committee, at which Ireland has a hearing next month.

“Overall, our report examines how Ireland is performing against its international civil and political rights obligations,” Betty Purcell, Acting Chair of the IHREC Designate said.

While it welcomes improvements in areas such as marriage equality, it also outlines “a lack of progress in many areas highlighted by the UN Human Rights Committee in 2008 when Ireland last reported and puts the spotlight on emerging issues where the State’s response to date has fallen short of its obligations”.

Other improvements welcomed are in the area of human trafficking and forced labour, and that the death of any prisoner in custody is now the subject of an investigation.

Recommendations and concerns included in the report are:

  • GSOC ”should be insulated” from Ministerial control by being made accountable to the Oireachtas and independent in its functioning and budget
  • The State “must ensure” that proper accountability structures that meet international human rights obligations are in place within An Garda Síochána
  • Survivors of historic abuse still face legal barriers under the Statute of Limitations Acts in bringing legal claims and this has been upheld under the Constitution
  • It notes how the Vaccine Trials Inquiry collapsed in 2004 after being struck down by the Courts
  • The recognition of Traveller ethnicity is recommended.
  • The report expresses concern that “systemic delays in processing asylum applications and appeals is causing undue hardship and threatens people’s fundamental dignity”
  • A statement from the State as to its endorsement of a strategy to use non-custodial sanctions as an alternative to imprisonment
  • The State has not yet signed or ratified the terms of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence. The report recommends “the restoration of adequate resources to combat domestic violence”.
  • A new national anti-human trafficking plan and appoint an independent national rapporteur should be introduced.
  • Human rights safeguards to protect people in the care of mental health institutions are needed.
  • The Roma Community requires more support.
  • Legislation to prohibit discrimination in access to schools on the grounds of religion, belief and other status should be introduced.

You can read this list in more detail here. The hearing takes place on the 14 and 15 of July.

Read: Traveller and human rights groups to have their say on Garda oversight >

Column: The European Commission is not recognising the human right to water >

More: Symphysiotomy victims tell the UN about cruel and barbaric childbirth operations >

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Nicky Ryan

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