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Saturday 19 October 2019

UN criticises Government for not investigating Magdalene Laundries

Statues left behind in a Magdalene laundry in Donnybrook
Statues left behind in a Magdalene laundry in Donnybrook
Catherine Devine

Catherine Devine

The United Nations has criticised the Irish Government for failing to implement its recommendations to investigate allegations of ill treatment of women in Magdalene Laundries.

The UN Committee against Torture also criticises the Government for failing to prosecute perpetrators and to ensure that victims have an enforceable right to compensation.

The Committee is the most important international human rights treaty that deals with torture. It obligates countries who are parties to the treaty to prohibit and prevent torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment in all circumstances. 

In the report the Committee also highlighted the need to improve staffing at prisons and to review the prison healthcare system.

It noted the number of women in Irish prisons is increasing and that there is overcrowding in the Dochás Centre, as well as Mountjoy and Limerick prison.

It condemned sanitary conditions, saying that over 1,500 prisoners must use toilet facilities in the presence of another inmate in cells where they also eat their meals.

However the report also praised Ireland for many achievements in the six years since the UN Committee Against Torture's previous review.

These include the creation of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission and the provision of community service as an alternative to imprisonment.

Ireland was also praised for the establishment of the Citizens’ Assembly to consider a number of issues, including abortion laws, in 2016.

The Committee requests the State follows up on all the Committee's recommendations by August 11 2018.

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