Site Meter

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Prison chaplains say report echoes their warnings

Prison chaplains say report echoes their warnings

From Clerical Whispers blog

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

URGENT ACTION to reform the Irish prison system has been called for, following a European human rights report which found degrading, inhumane and unsafe conditions in prisons.

Prison chaplains welcomed publication of the report and said they hoped it would finally lead to a reform of the system.

The report, by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture, outlined allegations of assaults by prison officers on inmates; regular stabbings and attacks in Mountjoy Prison; haphazard drug rehabilitation; and allegations of racism.

The committee is part of the Council of Europe, the body behind the European Convention on Human Rights.

Head prison chaplain Fr Ciarán Enright said chaplains’ reports in recent years had made similar findings but there was no political will to improve conditions in prisons, and conditions had steadily worsened.

“People working in the prison system in Ireland have been crying out for change for so long,” he said.

“If we can’t treat prisoners with basic human dignity we have no hope of changing their lives for the better . . . Maybe one more report will finally make some difference.”

He said the incoming government must review penal policy and examine alternatives to prison.

The Irish Penal Reform Trust said the report was “a damning indictment of a prison system that is failing to meet the most basic human rights standards of safe and humane custody”.

Its director Liam Herrick said the report had exposed Ireland to international shame.

“This report shows a litany of broken commitments and inaction in relation to chronic problems over the past two decades. There has been a failure of leadership to address the problems within our prisons.”

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties said the incoming government must act swiftly to implement recommendations made by the European committee.

Its director Mark Kelly said there must be a full Dáil debate on the committee’s findings and an interdepartmental group must be charged with implementing the recommendations.

The report recommends Irish authorities intensify their efforts to tackle inter-prisoner violence at Mountjoy.

It says the authorities should continue to improve access to psychiatric care in all prisons.

Senior prison officers should also regularly remind their subordinates that the ill-treatment of detained persons will result in severe sanctions.


No comments: