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Spring / Summer 2012

about th e ICCL

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) is Ireland’s leading independent human rights watchdog, which monitors, educates and campaigns in order to secure full enjoyment of human rights for everyone. Founded in 1976 by Mary Robinson and others, the ICCL has played a leading role in some of the most successful human rights campaigns in Ireland. These have included establishing an independent Garda Ombudsman Commission, legalising the right to divorce, securing more effective protection of children’s rights, decriminalising homosexuality and the introduction of enhanced equality legislation. We believe in a society which protects and promotes human rights, justice and equality.

m essag e from th e di r ector

It has been a frenetically busy few months for the ICCL and, as you will see in the following pages, we have lots of news to share.

Campaigning for reform of some of the more antediluvian aspects of the Constitution has been a mainstay of the ICCL’s work for decades and we greatly welcomed the Programme for Government commitment to establish What we do a Constitutional Convention with a reform agenda. Regrettably, the Government’s • We advocate for positive changes current proposals for the Convention fall in the area of human rights. far short of the inclusive, participative and • We monitor government policy and meaningful model for which the ICCL had legislation to make sure that it complies hoped. Since the Government first sketched out its ideas in February, it has steadfastly with international standards. • We conduct original research and publish refused to make provision for civil society organisations to participate in the Convention reports on issues as diverse as equal in a meaningful way. The ICCL has responded rights for all families, the right to privacy, by drafting a Civil Society Charter for the policy reform and judicial accountability. Constitutional Convention to which more than • We run campaigns to raise public and 75 organisations and high-profile individuals have subscribed. You can read the Charter and political awareness of human rights, learn more about our campaign to ensure that justice and equality issues. the voices of civil society will be heard in an • We work closely with other key effective way at:

stakeholders in the human rights, justice and equality sectors.

How you can help You can help us to continue our work to monitor, train, conduct research, campaign and lobby for changes in legislation to ensure our rights are protected and promoted. Please visit our website: or phone us on 01 799 4504 to make a donation. Contact us: ICCL, 9-13 Blackhall Place, Dublin 7 T:+ 353 1 799 4504 F:+ 353 1 799 4512 E: W:

Our other major preoccupations have included working to ensure that the new Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (which is due to replace the former Human Rights Commission and Equality Authority) will meet the highest international standards. In early July, the ICCL appeared before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Defence to highlight a number of flaws in the General Scheme of the Bill to create the Commission. Our concerns have been well reflected in the Committee’s recent report to the Minister for Justice and hopefully the Minister will take the necessary steps to ensure that the new Commission will retain the United Nations “A” status accorded to its predecessor.

We have continued to build and consolidate our networks at both global and regional (European Union) levels. The work of the International Network of Civil Liberties Organisations (INCLO) which I Co-Chair with my Argentinian colleague, Gaston Chillier, is taking shape and I will be able to report on some significant developments in the next edition of Rights News. At European level, the ICCL has secured substantial operational funding (in excess of e200,000) from the European Commission in order to formalise its JUSTICIA network. JUSTICIA is a pan-European network of 12 organisations, led by the ICCL, working together to ensure full respect for emerging EU law on procedural (fair trial) rights and the human rights of victims. This is the second successive year in which the ICCL has received core operational funding from the European Commission to work at the cutting edge of European law and the protection of domestic civil liberties. Greater challenges lie ahead for the ICCL, not the least of which is tackling our overreliance on too few sources of major funding. As you may have seen from recent press coverage, one of our largest donors, the Atlantic Philanthropies, will be winding down its funding in Ireland over the next few years, rendering it urgent that we identify replacement core funding to sustain the impact of the ICCL’s work. Our recent successes in securing funding from the European Commission and a small number of other trusts and foundations will not, in themselves, be sufficient to replace the Atlantic Philanthropies funding that enables us to meet a significant proportion of our day-to-day expenses. We need your help to ensure that we will be able to continue our work in an effective way after funding from the Atlantic Philanthropies has ended. So, if you appreciate the work of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties please make a donation – large or small – to support our future activities. You can send a cheque / postal order, visit to donate online, or just call the office on 01 799 4504. All contributions are very gratefully received.

Mark Kelly Director

h ear ou r voices

Michele Brandt with ICCL Director Mark Kelly and Senator Katherine Zappone

ICCL Launches ‘Hear our Voices’ Civil Society Initiative on Constitutional Convention

Participants at the Hear our Voices symposium, which was held on 21 June 2012 at Tailor’s Hall in Dublin

Early this summer the ICCL launched the ‘Hear Our Voices’ initiative, calling for the voices of civil society organisations, and the voices of those they represent, to be heard in an effective way during the Constitutional Convention process.

Despite pre-election promises, the Government’s plans to establish a Constitutional Convention have been disappointing. Instead of drawing from widely documented international best practice on constitutional reform, the Government has settled on a hastily-assembled and fundamentally flawed framework for a Convention, consisting of 33 parliamentarians and 66 citizens randomly chosen on various demographic and geographic bases, and limited to discussion of a pre-determined set of subjects. This formula was reached without any consultation whatsoever with the public, with experts or with the range of civil society groups campaigning on constitutional reform. The proposed formula was presented to Opposition politicians, but their input was not solicited. Crucially, and most damagingly for the viability and success of the Convention, the voices of experts and civil society groups have been expressly excluded from the proposed formula. On 21 June 2012 the ICCL held and international ‘Hear our Voices’ symposium, where the ICCL’s paper Developing a Model for Best

Practice for Public Participation in Constitutional Reform was presented by ICCL Policy Officer Stephen O’Hare. The event was addressed by Michele Brandt, an international expert in constitutional law reform, who argued that: “There is much to be learned from the recent experience of other states that have undertaken constitutional reform. From Afghanistan to South Africa, Iceland to Timor-Leste, experience demonstrates the need to promote public participation, meaningful representation and inclusion, particularly among vulnerable people on the margins of society. An open and transparent process is needed to foster genuine national ownership of the Convention. If a government does not act to generate such ownership, it can sow the seeds of public discontent.” Regrettably, these essential ingredients for an effective ‘constitutional reform moment’ are missing from the Government’s current plans. Despite criticism from academics, experts, civil society groups and Opposition members, on 10 July the Government forced through its resolution on the formation of a Constitutional Convention in a Dáil debate that was subject to a two hour guillotine. On the same day the ICCL published the ‘Hear our Voices’ Charter for a Constitutional Convention, which was signed by over 75 civil society organisations. The Charter is an outline of the key principles that should underpin a truly effective constitutional reform process. The wide range of signatories to the Charter is a measure of the real anger and disappointment felt across Ireland at the Government’s failure to deliver on what it promised before the election – a credible, accessible and effective forum for constitutional reform. The ICCL will be working in the coming months to ensure that, notwithstanding the flawed nature of current plans for the Constitutional Convention, the voices of civil society will be heard. To read the charter, please log on to:


First Cycle of Ireland’s Universal Periodic Review concludes with events in Geneva and Dublin

Group. We also called upon the Irish Government to translate into deeds the commitments made during the UPR process, especially by timely ratification of all core UN human rights instruments. Other civil society organisations that took the floor were: COC Netherlands (Cultuur en OntspanningsCentrum), with whom Irish NGOs such as the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network and the Transgender Equality Network Ireland liaised; the Irish Family Planning Association (represented by Action Canada for Population and Development); Women’s Human Rights Alliance; Pavee Point; Amnesty International and the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children. Ashleigh Shaheen, intern at the Irish Penal Reform Trust, with Mark Kelly at Liberty Hall in Dublin Your Rights Right Now returned to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on 15 March 2012 for the conclusion of the formal components of Ireland’s first UPR examination. During a one-hour session, the UN Human Rights Council considers whether to adopt the Outcome Report of the UPR Working Group (in this case the Outcome Report on Ireland). The Irish State was represented by Gerard Corr, Ireland’s Ambassador to the UN, who commenced proceedings by speaking about issues raised and recommendations made during the interactive dialogue session which took place on 6 October 2011. Responding to a number of UPR recommendations made to Ireland, the Ambassador spoke about the situation in

Irish prisons, the children’s rights referendum and the Constitutional Convention. He also commended Irish civil society groups for their engagement with the UPR process. In parallel with the activities in Geneva, the campaign held breakfast events in Dublin, Galway, Maynooth, Limerick and Cork, at which the Geneva hearing was screened live.

A number of other UN countries made interventions largely thanking Ireland for its positive engagement with the process and reiterating the importance of UPR implementation. Finally, representatives from NGOs, civil society organisations and the Irish Human Rights Commission had the opportunity to make two-minute statements. Building on our formal submission to the Nineteenth Session of the UN Human Rights Council, Deirdre Duffy, ICCL’s UPR Project Manager, presented the Your Rights Right Now statement which welcomed Ireland’s positive engagement with the UPR process and clear acceptance of 91 recommendations Civil Society groups in Dublin’s Liberty Hall watch the live webstream of the UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva of the UPR Working

Ambassador Corr made a final intervention before the UN Human Rights Council voted to adopt the Outcome Report of the UPR Working Group during which he referred to upcoming legislation on gender recognition rights. Currently, the Your Rights Right Now campaign is busy documenting the numerous achievements of the coalition’s work. In the main, the UPR process has been a success for Ireland: we have received strong and worthwhile recommendations from our peers; it has opened a pathway of dialogue between civil society and government; and, there is a greater awareness and knowledge of human rights among the Irish public, community groups and media. Now we move into what is arguably the most important part of the process: the implementation stage. We were pleased to hear Ambassador Corr re-affirm the Irish Government’s commitment to an interim review to update on the progress of implementation which is due in 2013. Your Rights Right Now is firmly committed to the implementation process and, although a small number of recommendations in the Your Rights Right Now report were not picked up at the UN Human Rights Council, we will continue to push for progress on these issues. Please check in with our dedicated website to see updates on our plans for implementation of the UPR recommendations and how you can get involved.


Ireland and the UN Committee against Torture In June 2011, Ireland was examined by the UN Committee against Torture which made a number of recommendations to Ireland on the following matters: Ω Independence (including financial resources) of human rights institutions Ω Rendition flights Ω Rights of refugees and asylum seekers, including detention Ω Prison conditions, inter-prisoner violence, complaint mechanisms and prisoners on remand Ω Operations of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) including the ‘lease back’ of complaints to an Garda Síochána Ω Follow up to the Ryan report Ω Magdalene laundries Ω Children in detention Ω Corporal punishment Ω Female genital mutilation (FGM) Ω Violence against women, including domestic violence Ω Abortion Ω Treatment of persons with mental disabilities Ω Protection of separated and unaccompanied minors Ω Training of law enforcement personnel As part of the follow up and implementation process, Ireland is required to report back to the Committee in June 2012, specifically on progress achieved on the independence of human rights institutions; investigation into, and if appropriate, redress for the Magdalene Laundries survivors; follow up to the Ryan report and the prohibition of the practice of FGM. Later this year the ICCL will be submitting a follow up report to the Committee and will be carrying out advocacy work to highlight areas (across all recommendations as listed above) where progress has been achieved in addition to those which require advancement in order to comply with Ireland’s international human rights obligations as set out by the Committee.

Felice Gaer, Director of Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights and vice-chair of the UN Committee against Torture

On 28 May 2012, the ICCL, in cooperation with Justice for Magdalenes (JFM) and the Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) held a follow-up event on the UNCAT process entitled Preventing Ill-Treatment and Securing Accountability: The Impact in Ireland of the UN Convention Against Torture (UNCAT). In addition to contributions by the ICCL’s Mark Kelly, JFM’s Maeve O’Rourke and IPRT’s Liam Herrick, we were honoured to welcome Ms Felice Gaer, Vice Chair of the UN Committee Against Torture. Speaking in her personal capacity as Director of the Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights, Ms Gaer reflected on the impact of the work of UNCAT, and on Ireland’s hearing before the committee in May 2011. Details available on


The ICCL’s EU Justice Project Portal The ICCL is delighted to announce the launch of its new EU Justice Project portal. This portal holds information in the areas of victims’ rights and procedural rights. The portal will be regularly updated with the most relevant documents, press releases, academic comment, legislation, and case-law and organised in a fully-searchable central storage space. This project is part of the ICCL’s EU Criminal justice project, a key aim of which is to make information on criminal justice and victims’ rights more accessible to the public. The portal can be accessed through the ICCL website or at

ICCL Holds Conference on Victims’ Rights On 12 April 2012, the ICCL hosted a major conference on the rights of crime victims in Dublin Castle entitled The EU Directive on Victims’ Rights: Opportunities and Challenges for Ireland. The opening address was made by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Alan Shatter TD. The conference centred on the draft EU Directive on Victims’ Rights currently being negotiated by the European Union institutions: European Commission, European Council and European Parliament. Minister Shatter has done much to promote the position of the victim in Ireland, tabling two Private Members’ Bills while in opposition. In his address, the Minister stated that he will do everything in his power to ensure the swift progression of the Directive, stating that its advancement will be “a personal major priority” of his during the Irish Presidency (commencing January 2013). The conference was also addressed by Professor Anthony Pemberton from the Institute of Victimology at the University of Tilburg; David McKenna, President of Victim

Support Europe; Dr Shane Kilcommins of UCC; Ray McAndrew, Chairperson of the Commission for the Support of Victims of Crime; Maria McDonald BL; and Judge Gillian Hussey, Chair, Crime Victims Helpline. One of the ICCL’s strategic aims is to “advocate for a fair and just criminal justice system that respects the human rights of all involved”. In recent years, victims have been increasingly recognised as legitimate stakeholders in the criminal justice system and respect for their rights has gradually improved. The ICCL has been engaged in advocacy work at EU level over a number of years with the aim of ensuring that strong rights for crime victims are contained in the Directive (see overleaf). This conference brought together numerous stakeholders - academics, legislators, victims and victims’ rights groups - to discuss what this important European legislation will mean for victims of crime in Ireland. It provided a unique opportunity for people working on victims’ rights in Ireland to learn about developments at the EU and to consider what changes are required in the legislative and operational framework in Ireland in order to ensure future compliance with EU law.

Home Defence Bill Passes into Law On 12 January 2012 Minister Alan Shatter signed the new Criminal Law (Defence and the Dwelling) Act 2011 into law, despite sustained criticism by the ICCL and legal practitioners of such measures since they were first mooted in 2007. Unfortunately, the new law contains insufficiently robust legal safeguards to protect the right to life of householders or intruders, is at odds with guidance given by the Court of Criminal Appeal and fails to fully respect Article 2 (right to life) of the European Convention on Human Rights. Legislation that suggests the right to property can trump the right to life, exposes wellintentioned householders to unwarranted physical danger and the risk of criminal prosecution for murder. The ICCL has written to the Director of Public Prosecutions requesting that she adopt an approach similar to that in the United Kingdom where plain English guidance on the implications of home defence law has been published by the Crown Prosecution Service.


ICCL Lead Partner Organisation in JUSTICIA Network In June 2012 the ICCL received the exciting news that the European Commission had approved our application for a significant operating grant, which allows the ICCL to continue to enhance its work in relation to EU criminal justice issues, whilst remaining one of the key players in this field. The grant is in effect a continuation of the core funding we obtained last year, indicating the European Commission’s endorsement of the ICCL’s previous work in this area. This development enables the formal establishment of a distinct trans-European legal entity, the JUSTICIA consortium, of which the ICCL is the lead partner. Founded on the shared principle that EU standards cannot be effectively promoted through a single-country focus, and that such promotion requires advocate cooperation, the JUSTICIA network consists of 12 network member organisations at present: The ICCL, Open Society Justice Initiative (Hungary), Statewatch (UK), the Latvian Centre for Human Rights, the Human Rights Monitoring Institute (Lithuania), the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, the League of Human Rights (Czech Republic), the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, the Polish Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, the European Centre for Human and Constitutional Rights (Germany), the Greek Helsinki Monitor and Johannes Kepler Universität Linz (Austria). However, there is scope in the future for the expansion of its membership to areas geographically underrepresented (Southern Europe, in particular). We welcome this opportunity to strengthen the domestic impact of the work of both the ICCL and the Justicia network member organisations in the area of EU justice. We hope that by taking this multi-faceted approach, we will equip partner organisations more effectively, enabling them to promote the observance of EU standards on procedural rights and the rights of victims of crime, and to contribute to an all rights-based progressive reform, whilst strengthening their existing working relationships with their European counterparts.

More specifically the Justicia network will focus on monitoring the progress, shaping the outcome and supervising the implementation of the measures contained in the Swedish Roadmap on Procedural rights, i.e. access to a lawyer; legal aid reform; right to interpretation and translation in criminal proceedings; the right to information and information on charges; the protection of the rights of vulnerable accused people with law enforcement professionals; the right to liberty and security of the person. In addition, the network will concentrate on supporting victims of crime as this pertains to the draft victims directive. On 16 July 2012, the first official meeting of the Justicia network was convened at the Offices of the Open Society Justice Initiative in Budapest, which saw representatives from a broad range of like-minded network member organisations, gather to discuss the network’s immediate and future collaborative work. Our projected activities include, but are not limited to, holding training seminars and conferences; issuing various publications; engaging in collective lobbying; developing the ICCL’s information technology, most notably the EU Justice portal, and expanding the ICCL Know Your Rights series across languages and European borders. We welcome this chance to show leadership; look forward to the upcoming versatile work programme; and, most importantly, relish the opportunity to instigate real change in the field of EU criminal justice both domestically and at a European level.

“I believe that in certain key areas, our laws are out of step with public opinion. I don’t believe for example, that it should ever be the role of the State to pass judgement on whom a person falls in love with, or whom they want to spend their life with. I believe in gay marriage. The right of gay couples to marry is, quite simply, the civil rights issue of this generation, and, in my opinion, its time has come.” Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore pictured with Marriage Equality Chair Gráinne Healy

ICCL Welcomes Ministers’ Gay Marriage Pledges On 1 July 2012 Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore went on the record to pledge his support for the opening up of marriage to same sex couples, characterising it as “the civil rights issue of this generation” of people in Ireland. His comments were later endorsed by Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter TD. The ICCL greatly welcomes this display of political leadership by the Tánaiste and the Minister for Justice on this subject. Indeed, given the cross-party consensus on the matter, the ICCL believes that granting full equality to same sex couples should be accorded a similar priority to other matters, such as children’s rights and Senate reform, which are being fast-tracked towards referendums, rather than sent for yet more discussion in the Constitutional Convention.

iccl n ews, EVE NTS & pu b lications

Know Your Rights: Your Rights as a Prisoner was produced in partnership with the Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) to provide prisoners with accessible information about their rights while in prison, whether as a convicted prisoner, a remand prisoner, a female prisoner, or a child in detention. The booklet was produced with the support of the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences (IRCHSS), as part of its Research Development Initiative, and will be distributed with the cooperation of the Irish Prison Service. The ICCL and IPRT also plan to actively promote the booklet in the coming months through awareness-raising and roadshow activities. The booklet was launched on 30 March 2012 at Dublin’s Chester Beatty Library, as part of

the IPRT’s Strengthening Accountability Behind Bars event, where Northern Ireland Prisoner Ombudsman, Pauline McCabe, gave the keynote address. The ICCL‘s partnership with the IPRT on this booklet has formed the template for our future partnership-focussed development of the Know Your Right project. In the coming months, we will be releasing a booklet on children’s rights, in partnership with the Children’s Rights Alliance, and on the rights of same sex couples, in partnership with the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network. Know Your Rights: Your Rights as a Prisoner can be downloaded free of charge at

Know Your Rights: Your Rights as a Prisoner Spring 2012 saw the second phase of the ICCL’s Know Your Rights project deliver its first output, with the formal launch on 30 March 2012 of the fourth booklet in the ICCL’s Know Your Rights series.

Walter Jayawardene, ICCL Communications Manager, and Liam Herrick, IPRT Director, speaking at the launch

ICCL Bids Farewell to Lorraine Curran

ICCL Welcomes Grace Mulvey

In January 2012, the ICCL bade farewell to its Information Officer Lorraine Curran, who has taken up a post in Leinster House. Lorraine joined the ICCL team in February 2009 and was instrumental in building the ICCL’s information and resource base, and in developing the organisation’s internal communications through the creation of a staff intranet. The ICCL would like to wish Lorraine the very best in her new career, and thank her for her invaluable contribution during her three years on our team.

The ICCL would like to welcome Grace Mulvey as the newest member of our Research and Policy Team. Grace has a degree in Law and German from University College Cork and an LLM in the Criminal Justice Clinical Programme, also from UCC. In addition, she is a qualified Attorney at Law at the New York Bar. She previously worked for NASC, (the Irish Immigrant Support Centre, based in Cork) in its Legal Clinic and as an Equality Officer. Grace will be supporting our work in the area of Criminal Justice reform and international human rights reporting.

Global Vision for Local Impact – The ICCL’s 2011 Annual Report The ICCL is happy to announce the publication of its 2011 Annual Report, which documents some of the highlights of our work last year, including leading a strong civil society coalition all the way to Geneva, where Ireland faced its first Universal Periodic Review (UPR) by its peers on the United Nations Human Rights Council. The report also documents our winning referendum campaign against Government proposals to give the Oireachtas over-reaching powers of inquiry and our awareness-raising activities, including the Annual Human Rights Film Awards, now in their fourth successful year. Global Vision for Local Impact can be viewed or downloaded from the ICCL homepage –

Rights News, Issue 21, Spring/Summer 2012 ISSN 1649-9530

ICCL Rights News 21 - Spring/Summer 2012  

The Spring/Summer 2012 edition of the ICCL's quarterly newsletter.

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