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Dublin: 10°C Monday 19 April 2021

Ireland will be defending its record on human rights at the UN today

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald will make her debut in front of the committee.

Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

IRELAND’S PROGRESS IN implementing civil and political rights will be put under scrutiny by the United Nation’s Human Rights Committee over the next two days.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald will lead the Irish State delegation and her appearance, defending Ireland’s work in the area, will be streamed live this afternoon.

A number of organisations and advocacy groups have also made submissions to the committee ahead of the hearing to outline the reality of rights protections across the country.

Among the group heading to Geneva today are Amnesty International Ireland, Irish Council for Civil Liberties, the Irish Penal Reform Trust, Survivors of Symphysiotomy, LGBT Noise and Doctors for Choice.

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Designate said it will also raise concerns relating to institutional abuse, direct provision, trafficking, violence against women, Traveller ethnicity, discrimination against the Roma community, mental health, policing and prisons, and religion and education in schools.

The IHREC Designate has a statutory remit to monitor and report on Ireland’s compliance with its human rights obligations, namely the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Ireland has ratified.

Survivors of Symphysiotomy, whose members have just rejected a proposed €34 million redress scheme, hope their appearance will put pressure on the government to acknowledge that the childbirth practice was a human rights abuse.

Chairperson Marie O’Connor says she hopes how Ireland has dealt with survivors of symphysiotomy will be central to the UN’s scrutiny of Ireland.

“The performance of symphysiotomy amounted to torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. Doctors intentionally inflicted severe pain and suffering on women and girls, some as young as 14, for non-clinical reasons. In very many cases, the effects, both physical and mental, of the surgery, have been lifelong and this is what qualifies our complaint for examination.”

The women are looking for “an effective remedy” which would include an acknowledgement, rather than an ex-gratia compensation scheme.

‘I was just 27 and I was butchered’: Symphysiotomy survivors in their own words

Interview: ‘I didn’t know if my baby was dead or alive for two days’

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