Sunday 25 August 2019

UN report wants slopping-out ended

The United Nations (UN) Committee against Torture has branded so-called slopping-out in some of Ireland's prisons degrading and inhuman treatment.

The Geneva-based international watchdog said it was deeply concerned and called on the Government to immediately eliminate the practice.

It also recommended that until all cells have in-cell sanitation, prisoners should be released to use toilet facilities at all times.

The body expressed concern at reports of continuing overcrowding in the state's jails and called for an independent system for dealing with prisoner complaints.

The Irish Penal Reform Trust said the complaints system was the most important protection against mistreatment of inmates.

Executive director Liam Herrick said: "The expert UN committee has made clear that an independent system for investigating complaints by prisoners is the most important protection against potential mistreatment of persons in detention.

"The committee has given an unambiguous direction to the Government to establish an independent and effective complaints body, such as a prison ombudsman, and to ensure that prisoners are protected against any intimidation or reprisals as a consequence of the complaints."

The committee said it was gravely concerned that 16 and 17-year-old children were being detained in Dublin's St Patrick's Institution, which it said was a medium-security prison that was custodial instead of a care facility for youngsters.

It recommended that the Government proceed without delay in the construction of the National Children Detention Facilities at Oberstown, Co Dublin.

The watchdog also raised concerns about violence amid prisoners, and said the Government should tackle contributing factors such as drugs, feuding gangs and a lack of activities.

Prison officers should also receive training on how to tackle inmate violence while Traveller intimidation must also be looked at.

Last week, Ireland`s Inspector of Prisons, Judge Michael Reilly, highlighted a litany of concerns in the state's jails, including severe overcrowding, slopping-out and broken windows.

He also criticised the detention of juveniles with adults in St Patrick's Institution and how deaths in custody are investigated.

© Press Association

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