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29th March 2017, 17:30:38 UTC

Today, responding to the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights’ report on Ireland, Amnesty International Ireland called for meaningful action on his recommendations. This report followed the Commissioner, Nils Muižnieks’, visit to Ireland in November 2016, where he heard and saw first-hand how certain groups’ human rights are not being respected.

“The Irish Government has yet again been instructed that its abortion laws must be reformed if women’s and girls’ rights are to be respected. Ireland has already been told this by four UN human rights committees in the past four years.  We welcome the Commissioner’s adding to the call for the Eighth Amendment of the Irish Constitution to be repealed, and soon. Until the Eighth Amendment is repealed, there can be no end to the daily violations of women’s rights. While the Citizens’ Assembly process established by the Government to review the Eighth Amendment has served as a useful discussion forum, a referendum is urgently needed. It is also important that Ireland acknowledge and act on the Commissioner’s concern at the ‘patchy’ and ‘in some cases biased’ sexuality education in national schools. The need for comprehensive sexuality education for adolescents was also remarked on by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child last year,” said Fiona Crowley, Research and Legal Manager with Amnesty International Ireland.

Amnesty International Ireland also welcomed the Commissioner’s concern at how the Government has dealt with historical abuses regarding the Magdalene Laundries, Mother and Baby Homes, the medical procedure of symphysiotomy, and sexual abuse in national schools.

“The Commissioner’s call for improvement in each of these areas is timely, and must be acted on. As he says in his report, all groups of victims of past human rights abuses have a right to truth, full support and effective remedies. His call for an ‘independent and thorough investigation’ into alleged abuses in the Magdalene Laundries is particularly noteworthy.  For too long the Government has persisted in pretending that its 2013 Inter-Departmental Committee review of the Magdalene Laundries was sufficient. This is despite several UN human rights bodies strongly advising that this was not an adequate response.

“We also echo the Commissioner’s call for Ireland’s ratification of the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention. Ratifying this would provide important oversight and guidance for the state in providing assistance, support and protection to women subjected to gender-based violence. The Government must also acknowledge and address the underfunding of voluntary support services for victims of domestic violence identified by the Commissioner.

“We echo the Commissioner’s welcome for the Government’s recognition of Travellers as a minority ethnic group. We urge the Government to take effective action on his recommendations to address longstanding disadvantage within this community, including inadequate accommodation provision and forced evictions. The Government must also act on his call for the social exclusion and disadvantage experienced by the Roma community be tackled. His comments on the unsuitability of the ‘Direct Provision’ system of accommodating asylum seekers for long periods of stay, particularly for children, must also be heeded,” said Fiona Crowley.