A United Nations (UN) committee has acknowledged Ireland’s work on improving human rights, but has told an Irish delegation that “issues of concern” remain.
The UN’s Human Rights Committee yesterday (5 July) concluded its consideration of how Ireland is implementing the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
A panel of experts from the committee praised proposed legislation on hate crimes, but also raised concerns about “slow progress” in addressing rights abuses at ‘Mother and Baby’ and other institutions.
One committee expert said that a satisfactory mechanism had not been introduced to “fight impunity” and promote the right to the truth for thousands of victims at such institutions.
Roderic O'Gorman (Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, pictured) told the committee that the Government had made wide-ranging commitments to addressing the priority needs and concerns of those who had spent time in ‘Mother and Baby’ and ‘County Home’ institutions.
The Irish delegation said that an Garda Síochána investigated all complaints it received, but had concluded that the report of the Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation did not contain conclusive evidence of abuse.
The group was also asked what action it intended to take to tackle continuing discrimination against Travellers and people of African descent, and why Travellers were over-represented in the criminal-justice system.
The Irish delegation acknowledged that the Traveller community made up 10% of detained people – a far higher percentage than their share of the population.
It said that the Government offered education programmes in prisons that were tailored to the community, and that it was making efforts to link released Travellers with employment opportunities.
Asked about the “relatively few” human-trafficking cases that had been prosecuted in Ireland, the delegation said that it was a difficult crime to investigate, as victims were often unable to psychologically accept that they were victims, and families were often threatened.
The Government told the committee that it intended to increase capacities to provide support to victims, and planned to allow non-Governmental organisations to provide medical and legal support to victims.