Ireland - Government is told for the third time to allow people a lawyer when in police questioning

Irish Council for Civil Liberties - Press Release: 18th September 2003

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The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (ECPT) has recommended for the third report in a row that the Irish Government must allow a person in detention to have a lawyer present when being interrogated. Responding to the publication today of the ECPT Report on the their visit to Ireland in 2002, Aisling Reidy Director of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) commented:

"This recommendation was first made by the Committee when they visited in 1995 - eight years later and they still have to repeat it to the government. In this case, the Government has had this report since last December. It told the Committee it would review the situation concerning access to a lawyer. It is therefore quite extraordinary that the Minister for Justice has recently brought out a new Garda Powers Bill increasing the time that people can be detained without charge and has ignored this core and repeated recommendation. The message is clear: having a lawyer is a right that prevents the possibility of ill-treatment or abuse of power during interrogation. It is impossible to understand why the government and the Minister do not want this right provided to people. Similarly for a third time in a row, the Committee has had to call on the government to put in place an independent and impartial complaints mechanism for people who complain of ill-treatment."

The ECPT visits Ireland on a periodic basis as a party to the European Convention on the Prevention of Torture. The report of the Committee, based on visits to police stations, prisons, mental health establishments and detention centres for children, raises many areas of concern. One of urgency that was highlighted was the lack of clarity around the legal safeguards for detention of individuals with a mental disability, and their rights.

"One of the most striking aspects of the Committee's report is that many of the recommendations are not new, but repeated recommendations to the government where the situation has not improved since the Committee's visits in 1995 and 1998. The Minister for Justice recently addressed a human rights conference and said that "it is one thing to have human rights charters, it is another thing to have governments who believe in them."

The report of the ECPT contains almost 50 recommendations, and many more comments and request for information from the Government. It will be enlightening to see how many recommendations are acted on and just how much belief the government places in protecting the rights of some of the most vulnerable in society, including juveniles, the mentally ill, and the mentally disabled".

For further information please contact: Irish Council for Civil Liberties, Aisling Reidy, Director, 01 - 8783137
1. ICCL website
2. ECPT report : Text (link)
3. Goverment response: Response (link)

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