Amnesty International Ireland has welcomed today’s European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) decision in O’Keeffe v Ireland as an important vindication of the right of children to expect their state to protect them from abuse.
The Court found that Ireland violated Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment) and Article 13 (right to an effective remedy) of the European Convention on Human Rights in not protecting Ms O’Keeffe from sexual abuse by her teacher and not having in place an effect system of detecting and reporting abuse.
Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland, said: “Today’s decision is not just a personal victory for Louise in vindicating her claim that the Irish state should have protected her from the sexual abuse she experienced at the hands of her schoolteacher. Her long battle for justice has also yielded a hugely important victory for the human rights of all children in Ireland today. The state can no longer deny its responsibility for protecting its children from ill-treatment.
“We hope the Irish Government will carefully reflect on what today’s decision means for how it protects children today, and how it deals with others seeking justice for the abuse they experienced as children in the past.
“This case shows how critical it is to have international human rights accountability mechanisms for the state’s actions and its courts’ decisions, most especially when the Irish constitution and Irish law fails to properly protect the human rights of people living in Ireland. Through taking their cases to the ECHR, ordinary Irish people have paved the way for civil legal aid, the decriminalisation of homosexuality, and the enactment of the Mental Health Act 2001.
“It is through the courage and determination of people like Louise O’Keefe that all our human rights, and those of our children, are better protected. She has done this society a huge service.”