Sinn Féin - On Your Side

British government must act on UN Human Rights recommendations

28 November, 2004

Sinn Féin Equality, Human Rights and Women's spokesperson, South Down MLA Catriona Ruane has said that the British government give Human Rights Commission greater powers after the United Nations Committee against Torture called on the British government to provide the Human Rights Commission with the powers to enter places of detention.

Ms Ruane said:

"The British government should immediately comply with the recommendations of the UN Committee Against Torture and provide the Human Rights Commission with the right to access prisons and other places of detention where vulnerable groups are contained.

"It has been our consistent view since the Human Rights Commission was established under the Good Friday Agreement that the lack of powers, particularly investigative powers has deliberately obstructed the Commission's work. We have argued this point on behalf of the Commission in negotiations with the British government. Without such powers vulnerable individuals and groups - such as women prisoners being held in Hydebank in unsuitable conditions that breach their rights or those in juvenile justice centres or the mentally ill - cannot be independently assessed or accessed by the Human Rights Commission.

"The fact that the UN Committee against Torture has criticised the failure of the British government to provide the Human Rights Commission with appropriate powers is a very positive and timely move. Its voice, as an international human rights watchdog should be listened to and, as a matter of urgency, fully complied with in the interests of those in our society who need their human rights protected."ENDS

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