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Ireland appearing before United Nations Human Rights Committee

14 July, 2008 - by Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD

Speaking today as Ireland appeared before the United Nations Human Rights Committee to be assessed on its compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Justice, Equality and Human Rights Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD said one of Ireland's breaches of the ICCPR contributed to the riot which took place in Mountjoy Prison over the weekend.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh also said that full compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) is in everybody's interests.

He said, "The protection of civil liberties must be the corner stone of any true democracy and the health of our own democracy can be gauged against this state's compliance with the ICCPR.

"This state falls short of compliance with a number of provisions and with the spirit of the Covenant in a range of areas.

"One area of which we are in breach of the ICCPR is our over-reliance on incarceration. The right to liberty is a fundamental cornerstone of the covenant but over the last 4 years this state has imprisoned 1,000 people for small offences such as non-payment of debts and related non-violent offences. The failure of the state to make alternatives to prison available has resulted in over-crowding in the prison system which this weekend contributed to a full scale riot in Mountjoy prison with five prison officers being hospitalised.

"The Offences Against the State Acts and the Special Criminal Court also fall foul of the ICCPR. This very UN Committee has already advised the government to disband the Special Criminal Court because the draconian measures contained in the Acts are only supposed to be allowed in times of emergency, if at all, and no such emergency exists. The Special Criminal Court denies basic rights to justice and as such involves a great risk of miscarriages of justice. A full and fair jury trial is more likely to achieve safe convictions and this is in the interests of all victims." ENDS

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