The Government must accept that the 1983 Eighth Amendment of Ireland’s Constitution is causing serious human rights violations, Amnesty International said today following the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights’ criticism of the state’s law on abortion.
In its review of Ireland’s compliance with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural right, the UN Committee was critical of Ireland’s “highly restrictive abortion law and strict interpretation thereof” and set out a pathway for reform.
Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland, said:
“The UN is clear on what international law says about Ireland – its laws on abortion are violating the human rights of women and girls.
Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland, said: The UN is clear on what international law says about Ireland – its laws on abortion are violating the human rights of women and girls.Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland
“The recommendations issued by the Committee outlines the legal reforms on access to abortion services and information that are necessary for Ireland to comply with its human rights obligations. The Committee is categorical that Ireland should also schedule a referendum on the Eighth Amendment of Ireland’s Constitution.
“The UN Human Rights Committee which monitors compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights also called on Ireland to revise its constitution last July. It is plain and simple: the two expert committees tasked with interpreting these two major UN human rights treaties have spoken with one voice on this. Ireland must act now.
“We hope and expect the Government will accept this call. As Ireland gears up for a general election, all political parties should include solid commitments to holding a referendum to repeal the 8thamendment in their pre-election manifestos.
“The Government must take seriously the Committee’s concern about the restrictive nature of the 2013 Protection of Life during Pregnancy Act. The Committee’s call for guidelines on the implementation of that Act echo Amnesty International’s concerns about the lack of legal and procedural clarity on what have life and death implications for pregnant women and girls.
“Two weeks ago, Amnesty International published a report on Ireland’s abortion laws explaining the suffering caused to Irish women because they cannot vindicate their rights in this jurisdiction. Reform of Ireland’s abortion laws are long overdue. Every day 10 to 12 women travel from Ireland to access abortion, Ireland cannot continue to outsource its human rights obligations.
“The Irish Government must not wait for another tragedy to emerge before acting to reform Ireland’s appallingly restrictive laws on abortion”.
Amnesty International also called on the Government to heed the Committee’s concern that no steps have been taken here to incorporate the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in domestic law.
Mr. O’Gorman said: “These are rights like health, housing and an adequate standard of living. They matter as much to people in Ireland as the constitutional right to fair trial. We hope the Government will now respond favourably to the overwhelming majority view of the Constitutional Convention in February 2014 that these rights be given constitutional status.
“We are also heartened that the Committee agrees that the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission should be given a full statutory mandate to work on economic, social and cultural rights”.