Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 January 2018, 12:49 GMT

Amnesty International Report 2007 - Ireland

Publisher Amnesty International
Publication Date 23 May 2007
Cite as Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 2007 - Ireland , 23 May 2007, available at: [accessed 17 January 2018]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.


Head of state: Mary McAleese
Head of government: Bertie Ahern
Death penalty: abolitionist for all crimes
International Criminal Court: ratified

Judicial inquiries into police misconduct criticized the National Police Service (An Garda Síochána). There was concern at Ireland's record in upholding the human rights of children.


The judicial inquiry into the April 2000 fatal shooting of John Carthy by police published its report in July. It severely criticized police systems, management and training in dealing with mental health emergencies in the community and the use of lethal force. It identified a series of command failures by police scene commanders, including that insufficient precautions were taken to avoid or minimize the risk to life. It also found that John Carthy "was probably subjected to physical abuse while under interrogation" while in custody on a separate occasion in September 1998, and that investigations into this matter were inadequate.

The judicial inquiry into complaints against members of the police Donegal Division published its third, fourth and fifth reports in August. It highlighted gross abuses of powers and fabrication of evidence; abuse of search warrants under the Offences against the State Act; specific misbehaviour by individual police officers; and "staggering" indiscipline and insubordination. Among other things, it found that police officers conspired to invent a story to ensure the acquittal of another officer facing a criminal charge.

The Police Ombudsman Commission, empowered to investigate complaints against members of the police, including cases involving deaths or serious injury during police operations, had not come into operation. As a result, the ineffective Police Complaints Board continued to deal with complaints.

  • At the end of the year, the inquest into the death of Terence Wheelock remained adjourned. He died in 2005 in hospital after being found unconscious in a police cell.

'War on terror'

In June, Ireland was one of the states identified in Senator Marty's report for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe as responsible for passive collusion in the US-led programme of secret detentions and renditions (illegal transfer of people between states outside of any judicial process). There was concern that the government had not satisfactorily investigated allegations that Shannon airport may have been used by foreign aircraft in the transfer of detainees by the USA or its agents.

Also in June a civilian aircraft landed at Shannon airport en route from Kuwait to the USA carrying a US Marine in US military custody without the required consent of the Irish government. This gave rise to concern that aircraft registered as private, yet used for state functions, availed themselves of entitlements for overflight and landing without prior authorization or notification.

International Criminal Court

The International Criminal Court Act 2006 was enacted in October, establishing domestic jurisdiction over crimes under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. However, the Act appeared to prohibit domestic jurisdiction over conduct that occurred before its entry into force.

Places of detention

Gary Douch was killed in August by another prisoner in Mountjoy Prison, Dublin. There was concern about the absence of a statutory mechanism for independent and effective investigations into prison-related complaints, including deaths in custody.

The Inspector of Prisons and Places of Detention's annual report, published in August, noted prison overcrowding, limited occupational and educational activities, and inadequate prisoner complaints procedures.

The Prisons Bill 2006, published in November, proposed placing the Office of the Inspector of Prisons on a statutory footing, as repeatedly called for by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture. However, the Bill failed to provide investigation of or adjudication on individual prisoner complaints as functions of the Inspector.

In November, the Irish Human Rights Commission advised that law and practice in the determination of life sentences was incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights, and that the Parole Board should be placed on a statutory footing and charged with determining applications for temporary release.


In September, reviewing Ireland's periodic report, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child noted the failure of the authorities to implement fully its previous recommendations on the adoption of a child rights-based approach in policies and practices. Among other things, the Committee expressed concern about the lack of incorporation of the UN Children's Convention into domestic law; limitations in the mandate of the Ombudsman for Children in investigations related to children in prison and police stations; racism and xenophobia faced by children from ethnic minority communities; the lack of privacy protection for children prosecuted in higher courts; the fact that corporal punishment was not prohibited; the lowering of the age of criminal responsibility to 10 years for serious crimes; the lack of separate detention facilities for children aged 16 and 17; the lack of recognition of the Traveller community as an ethnic group; and child poverty.

Residential facilities

State-run or funded residential facilities for children in care and unaccompanied asylum-seeking children lacked an inspection system.

In November a government-commissioned review of deaths between 2002 and 2005 at the Leas Cross Nursing Home for the elderly was published. It found that the care provided to residents was deficient on many levels, consistent with institutional abuse. It concluded that deficiencies in care at Leas Cross were likely to be replicated in other institutions throughout Ireland owing to a lack of structure, funding, standards, and oversight. It criticized the absence of systematic monitoring of deaths in nursing homes.

Treatment of people with intellectual disabilities

Inappropriately, adult inpatient mental health units continued to admit children. The establishment of an independent inspectorate for residential care facilities for adults with intellectual disabilities was delayed.

Asylum-seekers and victims of trafficking

Guidance for legislative proposals to consolidate and reform immigration legislation, and establish a single protection procedure was published in September. It gave rise to concerns, including a lack of clarity in distinguishing between refugee protection and subsidiary forms of protections; failure to address the lack of transparency and inconsistent decision-making in the present appeal mechanism; failure to address the continued inappropriate housing of immigration detainees in prisons; and the absence of specific protection measures for victims of trafficking. Likewise, the Criminal Law (Trafficking in Persons and Sexual Offences) Bill 2006 published in July failed to provide for the latter.


In his July report, the UN Co-ordinator on Follow-up of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination urged the Irish government to engage in dialogue with the Traveller community regarding the identification of Travellers as an ethnic group.


A National Women's Strategy to address gender inequality had still not been published by the end of the year. Non-governmental organizations providing crisis and support services to women experiencing gender-based violence continued to be under-funded.

Arms trade

In August, Irish-made components were reportedly exported to the USA for incorporation into attack helicopters supplied to Israel.

Despite a government announcement in August that it would legislate on arms export controls, by the end of the year no proposals had been published.

Copyright notice: © Copyright Amnesty International

Search Refworld