about th e ICCL
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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 On 28 October 2012, a young miscarrying in a society which protects and promotes woman, Savita Halappanavar, died at Galway human rights, justice and equality.
What we do • We advocate for positive changes in the area of human rights. • We monitor government policy and legislation to make sure that it complies with international standards. • We conduct original research and publish reports on issues as diverse as equal rights for all families, the right to privacy, policy reform and judicial accountability. • We run campaigns to raise public and political awareness of human rights, justice and equality issues. • We work closely with other key 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: www.iccl.ie 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: email@example.com W: www.iccl.ie Cover Image: Cathal McNaughton/Reuters
University Hospital after being refused a termination of her pregnancy. Her tragic death from septicaemia (and E.coli EBSL) sparked nationwide outrage and soul-searching about the impact on women of Ireland’s antediluvian abortion laws. The draft HSE clinical review of her care reportedly records that there was too much emphasis on the presence of a residual foetal heartbeat and not enough on Savita Halappanavar’s health. Apparently, it also states that the absence of legislation clarifying the circumstances in which abortions can be carried out may have been a contributory factor in her case. Such findings would vindicate the account given of Savita’s care by her husband, Praveen Halappanavar, shortly after her death. Mr Halappanavar has told reporters that, once it became clear that his wife was miscarrying, she repeatedly asked for a termination, but was told that Irish law prohibited this while a foetal heartbeat remained detectable. Savita Halappanavar’s death occurred almost two years after the European Court of Human Rights judged Ireland to be in violation of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights in the case of A, B and C v Ireland. With chilling prescience, the Strasbourg Court found there was a “striking discordance between the theoretical right to a lawful abortion in Ireland on grounds of a relevant risk to a woman’s life and the reality of its practical implementation.” Regular readers of Rights News will know that the Irish Council for Civil Liberties has been campaigning for the speedy implementation of this judgment since
December 2010, but that the Government has yet to legislate. A month after Savita Halappanavar’s death, the Government published the report of an “expert group” containing advice on the measures needed to implement the A, B and C judgment. It has now accepted that Ireland needs a new abortion law and, through hearings before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children, has sought expert advice on its content. The ICCL’s position is that, if the Government wishes in future to avoid the kind of national and international opprobrium to which Savita Halappanavar’s death has exposed it, it would do well to “future proof” its new abortion law, by doing more than the bare minimum required to implement the A, B and C judgment. In his January 2013 expert legal testimony to the Oireachtas Health Committee, ICCL Executive member Alan Brady pointed out that the most recent case law from the Strasbourg Court indicates that Council of Europe states are obliged to ensure that women seeking lawful terminations are not exposed to inhuman and degrading treatment contrary to Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Applying this principle in an Irish context, it seems clear that the current treatment of women with pregnancies involving a defined set of fatal foetal abnormalities (i.e. where it is clear that carrying a foetus to term will not result in a viable life) potentially falls foul of Article 3 of the Convention. Provision could – and should – be made in Ireland’s new abortion law for the termination of pregnancies involving fatal foetal abnormalities without violating the current text of Article 40.3.3° of the Constitution. Having successfully moved this issue up the legislative agenda, the ICCL has been pleased to note that the Irish public strongly favour the introduction of a fatal foetal abnormality ground in the new abortion law. Two successive opinion polls have indicated that between 79-80% of people would like to see the law reformed in this way. Will the Government listen, or must the State again be shamed, in Europe and beyond, before our wholly outmoded abortion laws are fully reformed?
Mark Kelly Director
MONITORING HUMAN RIGHTS
ICCL Provides Expert Legal Guidance to Shape Ireland’s New Abortion Law
Ireland’s legal obligation Speaking on behalf of the ICCL, Executive member of the ICCL Association Dr Alan DP Brady BL, told the Committee that, contrary to a common misconception, abortion has been lawful in Ireland since 1992. Mr Brady was referring to the judgment in the ‘X’ case, in which the Supreme Court ruled that Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution permitted abortion in circumstances where it is found that the life, as distinct to the health, of the woman is at risk, including from the threat of suicide. Dr Brady informed the Committee that, under Article 46 of the ECHR, Ireland was bound by the decision of the Court and must now, at at an absolute bare minimum, introduce abortion legislation and regulations, including in relation to the issue of suicidal ideation.
On Wednesday 9 January 2013, representatives from the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) made an oral presentation before the Public Hearings on the Implementation of the Government Decision following the publication of the Expert Group Report into matters relating to A,B and C v Ireland. The ICCL attended the hearings at the express invitation of the Chairman of the Joint Committee on Health and Children Mr Jerry Buttimer TD, to take part in the ‘legal hearings’ session along with other legal and constitutional experts. For three days, Committee members and non committee members, drawn from both houses of the Oireachtas, listened in the Seanad Chamber as more than 40 witnesses provided testimony proposing and opposing the need for a comprehensive legislative and regulatory framework to govern the availability of abortion in certain legally prescribed circumstances in Ireland.
Termination for medical reasons The Committee also heard from Dr Brady that recent case law from the Strasbourg Court indicates that Council of Europe states are obliged to ensure that women seeking lawful terminations are not exposed to inhuman and degrading treatment contrary to Article 3 of the Convention. Applying this principle in Ireland, Dr Brady pointed out that the current treatment of women with pregnancies involving a defined set of fatal foetal abnormalities (i.e. where it is clear that carrying a foetus to term will not result in a viable life) potentially falls foul of Article 3. In his presentation Mr Brady also indicated that provision could feasibly be made in Ireland’s new abortion law for the termination of pregnancies involving fatal foetal abnormalities without violating the current text of Article 40.3.3° of the Constitution. Other witnesses before the hearings included medical experts in obstetrics and psychiatry, legal practitioners, leading academics in law and ethics, religious organisations, service providers and campaign groups, both in favour of and opposed to abortion. Mr Brady was accompanied to the hearings by the ICCL’s Equality Officer Mr Stephen O’Hare.
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Decision of the European Court of Human Rights The hearings followed a decision by the Government to introduce legislation and regulations to provide legal clarity on the constitutionally permitted right of abortion in certain circumstances, on foot of the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in the case of A, B and C v Ireland. In its December 2010 decision the ECtHR noted that there was a ‘striking discordance between the theoretical right to a lawful abortion in Ireland on grounds of a relevant risk to a woman’s life and the reality of its practical implementation.’ The Strasbourg Court found that Ireland had violated Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) by failing to provide a woman whose life was at risk with a procedure to access a lawful termination of her pregnancy.
You can help us to continue our work of protecting and promoting rights in Ireland by making a donation in support of our work or joining the ICCL as a member – or by doing both.
Your gift, regardless of size, makes a huge difference. Please log on to www.iccl.ie to give today or phone the ICCL office on 01 799 4504. Thank you.
SECUR I NG EQUALITY
ICCL Launches New Legal Textbook on Anti-discrimination Law in Ireland In October, the ICCL launched Equal Status Acts 2000-2011 – Discrimination in the Provision of Goods and Services by Judy Walsh. Written by one of Ireland’s foremost authorities on anti-discrimination law and head of the Equality Studies Centre, UCD, the book provides the first truly accurate and comprehensive overview of the law in practice. The book was launched by Senator Katherine Zappone in the Law Society of Ireland on 23 October 2012 at the ICCL half-day conference - The Future of Anti-discrimination Law in Ireland. Paying tribute to author Judy Walsh, Senator Zappone noted that not only did the book provide an in-depth and thoroughly comprehensive review of the law as it currently stands in Ireland; it also displays a depth of empathy and sensitivity with its subject matter rarely seen in a legal textbook. The book has been written to function both as a narrative on the evolution of the Equal Status Acts and as a legal textbook. It is likely to be of interest to a broad range of audiences including legal practitioners and their clients, legislators and policy makers, academics and students, advocates, civil society organisations and advice providers. In her presentation outlining the main findings from the book Judy described how it examines the relationship between ‘inequality’ and ‘discrimination’, terms which are often erroneously confused, before mapping how the Equal Status Acts have operated in practice and how it has interacted with other equality law. She described the challenges facing individuals wishing to pursue cases under the Acts and those who would represent them. In her conclusion, Judy described the urgent necessity of ensuring that adequate provision for hearing cases under the Equal Status Acts is made following the forthcoming merger of the State’s equality bodies and, in particular, the merger of the Equality Tribunal into the new Workplace Relations Commission. Attendees at the conference included senior representatives from the State’s equality and human rights bodies, the Department of Justice and Equality, legal practitioners with extensive experience of taking antidiscrimination cases, leading academics and civil society organisations representing all nine grounds covered under anti-discrimination law.
Senator Katherine Zappone speaking at the launch of Judy Walsh’s book
The Future of Anti-discrimination Law in Ireland Over the course of the morning a number of speakers provided interesting and thought provoking presentations on the future of anti-discrimination law in Ireland. The conference heard of the timely and exciting research project currently being undertaken by the ICCL through its Anti-discrimination Law Review Project, an 18 month project reviewing the status and operation of Ireland’s anti-discrimination law. The project is being headed by Judy Walsh and undertaken by a team of researchers from the equality Studies centre in UCD. Mr Conor Power, Chair of the ICCL’s Expert Advisory Group provided a detailed analysis of the project’s first output, a paper entitled The Discrimination Complaint. The paper outlines an analysis of the first findings emerging from the review project in relation to the proposed reform of the Equality Tribunal, including waiving anonymity; the use of adversarial versus inquisitorial approaches to cases and the status of cases before the new Workplace Relations Commission (WRC). Managing Solicitor and Acting Director with the Northside Community Law Centre, Ms Moya de Paor, outlined a number of concerns in relation to the current and future enforcement of WRC and Labour Court decisions while Mr Michael Farrell, Senior Solicitor with the Free Legal Advice Centres, described some of the challenges facing NGOs pursing strategic litigation in relation to equality cases. As the conference concluded, attendees had an opportunity to engage in a panel discussion on the future of anti-discrimination law with the current director of the Equality Tribunal, Mr Niall McCutcheon and Mr Brian Merriman, Head of Legal Services with the Equality Authority.
SECUR I NG EQUALITY
Michael Farrell also took part in the discussion in his capacity as a former Commissioner with the Irish Human Rights Commission. In his contribution to the discussion Mr McCutcheon indicated that as things currently stand, it is the intention of the Minister with responsibility for reforming the State’s employment rights bodies, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Mr Richard Bruton TD, to include the hearing of cases concerning the Equal Status Acts under the remit of the new Workplace Relations Commission. Although details of the precise structure of the Commission have yet to be made available, Mr McCutcheon’s assurance was welcomed by attendees as positive. Equal Status Acts, 2000 – 2011 Discrimination in the Provision of Goods and Services is available for purchase from the ICCL or at www.blackhallpublishing.ie. Price e49.95
ICCL Welcomes “Bright Line” Drawn by ECtHR in Eweida Case The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) published its judgment in the case of Eweida and Others v the United Kingdom on 15 January 2013. The case examined four separate applications concerning allegations that employers had violated employees’ religious freedom (a right protected by Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights). In the most high profile of the cases under consideration, the Court found in favour of British Airways worker Ms Nadia Eweida, who fell foul of workplace uniform regulations which prohibited the wearing of jewellery, in this case a cross and chain worn by Ms Eweida, a devout Coptic Christian. The Court ruled this prohibition was a violation of Ms Eweida’s right to religious freedom, given that “there [was] no evidence of any real encroachment on the interests of others (para. 95).” Nadia Eweida Photo: Dominic Lipinksi/PA
However, the Court declined to find a violation in the case of two applicants, a civil registrar and a relationship councillor, who were dismissed after refusing to provide their services to same-sex couples, in violation of their employers’ equality and ethical policies. The ICCL welcomed the judgment as a prudent and common-sense one, which draws a bright line between the right to religious freedom, and the right to freedom from discrimination. The Strasbourg Court quite correctly upheld the fundamental right of all people to express and manifest their faith in the public sphere – a right
that can only be restricted where there is a reasonable justification, and only by proportionate means. However the Court clearly distinguished this right to religious expression from attempts to use conscience or religion to justify discrimination. The State has a legitimate aim, indeed an obligation, to provide and facilitate equal access to services. As such, it is well within its rights to prohibit the withholding of services to same-sex couples, even if this is purportedly on the grounds of conscience or sincerely held religious belief. Individual conscience or religious belief, however sincerely held, does not provide a free pass from the requirements of antidiscrimination law.
A brief summary of the four applicants’ cases: The first two applicants’ cases concerned the wearing of a cross and chain in the workplace (an airline, and a hospital, respectively). The Court found in favour of the first applicant (Ms Eweida), ruling that the prohibition on wearing a cross and chain in the course of her duties at British Airways constituted a breach of her religious freedom, given that “there [was] no evidence of any real encroachment on the interests of others (para. 95).” In the case of the second applicant (Ms Chaplin), the Court found that, though wearing the cross and chain was a legitimate manifestation of religious belief, in this case the workplace restriction was legitimate, given that she worked in a hospital ward where such apparel was generally prohibited for health and safety reasons, and to avoid cross-contamination. The third and fourth applicants’ cases concerned the provision of services to same-sex couples. Following the introduction of civil partnership in the UK, the third applicant Ms Ladele, a civil registrar at the London Borough of Islington, refused to be designated a registrar of civil partnerships. This refusal was in direct violation of the Borough’s ‘Dignity for All’ policy, which committed the Borough and its staff to provide services to all members of the community, irrespective of age, gender, disability, faith, race, nationality, sexuality, health or income. Ms Ladele’s refusal culminated in the loss of her job. The Court found, however, that the Borough acted in a legitimate manner in applying a policy of equal opportunities, aimed at “securing the rights of others”, and that obliging Ms Ladele to comply with this policy was both legitimate and proportionate. The fourth applicant, Mr McFarlane, was employed as a councillor in a private sex therapy and relationship counselling service, a member of the British Association for Sexual and Relationship Therapy (BASRT). In violation of the service’s equal opportunity policy, and the BASRT’s Code of Ethics, Mr McFarlane refused to commit himself to providing psycho-sexual counselling to samesex couples, despite being aware that the company had a policy of not filtering clients. This refusal culminated in the applicant’s dismissal. The Court, as in the third applicant’s case, rejected the applicant’s claim of religious discrimination, deeming as legitimate the employer’s policy of providing counselling services without discrimination.
PROMOTI NG J USTICE
The ICCL: At the Heart of EU Criminal Justice Reform
Access to a lawyer and legal aid reform Measure C1, the Proposal for a European Union Directive on the Right of Access to a Lawyer in Criminal Proceedings and the Right to Communicate upon Arrest, is currently at the final stages of negotiations between the European Union institutions (Commission, Council and Parliament), whilst the European Commission is expected to publish its proposal for Measure C2 (Legal Aid Reform) in 2013. JUSTICIA Project Coordinator, Grace Mulvey, travelled to Brussels on 10-11 October 2012 to participate in the Fair Trials International Annual LEAP Conference and European Parliament Panel debate on Measure C. During this time a JUSTICIA network event was also convened, with guest speaker Catherine Heard (Fair Trials International) leading discussions on potential collaborative advocacy strategies in relation to Measure C, with a particular focus on Legal Aid Reform.
ICCL Director Mark Kelly representing the JUSTICIA consortium at a working lunch with EU Commission Vice-President Viviene Reding at the Institute for European and International Affairs in Dublin Since the European Commission granted the ICCL a significant operating grant in July 2012, the ICCL has taken the lead in the newly formalised JUSTICIA European Rights Network. The Network consists of 11 network member organisations at present: The ICCL, the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, the European Center for Human and Constitutional Rights (Germany), Greek Helsinki Monitor, the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights (Poland), the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, the Human Rights Monitoring Institute (Lithuania), the Latvian Centre for Human Rights, the League of Human Rights (Czech Republic), Open Society Justice Initiative (Hungary), and Statewatch (UK). Network activities include holding training seminars and conferences; producing publications; engaging in collective lobbying in the area of EU criminal justice, as well as developing the ICCL’s EU Justice portal. On 18-19 December 2012, the second official meeting of the JUSTICIA Network saw representatives from our diverse range of Network Member organisations meet to evaluate the progress made during the year, and to discuss future collaborative work in 2013.
In early November 2012 the JUSTICIA network endorsed a joint NGO statement concerning the Directive on the right to lawyer which was submitted to Parliament Rapporteurs, the Commission and Council (members involved in the trilogues), as well as those involved in the Cypriot Presidency. The trilogue discussions are currently postponed until early 2013. We hope that this method of targeted joint statements will influence the outcome of the trilogues. On 5 November 2012 the JUSTICIA European Rights Network was pleased to host a major international conference in Vilnius, Lithuania entitled ‘Effective Criminal Defence in Europe: Challenges and Prospects’. This conference was held in partnership with a JUSTICIA Lithuanian network member, the Human Rights Monitoring Institute. The event was the first of a two-part international conference series which concerned Measure C of the Swedish Roadmap on procedural
Opening lines of communication between the Network and the European Commission is vital. With this in mind, on 25 September 2012 Mark Kelly, ICCL Director and JUSTICIA Consortium Leader, attended a working lunch with Ms. Viviene Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission and European Commissioner for Justice, Citizenship and Fundamental Rights, at the Institute of International and European Affairs in Dublin, after which Ms Reding delivered a Keynote Address entitled “Weathering the Storm Together: Justice for Growth, Justice for Citizens”.
Steven Cras of the Council of the European Union
MONITORING HUMAN RIGHTS
rights. Mr. Steven Cras, General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union, members of the Lithuanian EU Presidency team, JUSTICIA Network Representatives, practicing Lithuanian lawyers and academics discussed the progress and importance of Measure C, as well as exploring the potential role that the Lithuanian EU Presidency may play in shaping and progressing the Measure. On 12 December 2012 the JUSTICIA European Rights Network held a follow-up top level roundtable in Dublin where criminal law practitioners, JUSTICIA representatives and Irish and Lithuanian government officials exchanged views about the prospects to progress EU criminal justice reform, in particular Measure C during the EU Presidencies of Ireland and Lithuania. Mr. Steven Cras of the Council of the European Union very kindly joined us again, along with members of the Irish and Lithuanian EU Presidency team, to discuss the current status of Measure C after the postponement of the trilogues and the importance of the role that civil society can play in influencing EU criminal justice reform.
Victims of crime In addition to focusing on the measures contained in the Swedish Roadmap on Procedural Rights, the network is also committed to promoting the human rights of victims of crime. The network welcomed the announcement that the European Council adopted the Victims’ Directive on 4 October 2012. We will shortly be producing a JUSTICIA Know Your Rights publication (an expansion of the ICCL Know Your Rights series) explaining in accessible language the implications that this directive will have on victims of crime across EU member states.
INCLO Goes from Strength to Strength Since the ICCL hosted the formal coming together of international civil liberties organisations here in Dublin in December 2011, work has been ongoing to formalise and further elaborate the joint work of the International Network of Civil Liberties Organisations (INCLO). A major step in this direction was taken in July 2012 when the network met in Buenos Aires to discuss joint initiatives, information sharing and topical areas of mutual interest. Hosted by our Argentinean colleagues at the Centre for Legal and Social Studies (CELS), the ICCL and other network members worked together to develop a detailed outline of work for the Network. This outline ranged from areas of active international campaign collaboration, to information sharing, to ‘once off’ initiatives of benefit to the work of several of the network members. It also identified a number of thematic areas of mutual interest where comparative information sharing would be useful to all members. The outcome of the Buenos Aires meeting has already borne fruit, with INCLO members networking and sharing information on a number of important issues of mutual interest, including reproductive justice, policing and the right to protest. In the spirit of this, our colleagues in the Canadian Civil Liberties Association invited Network members to participate in their annual conference on Civil Liberties, entitled ‘People, Power and Protest’, which took place in Montreal on 12-13 October 2012. Walter Jayawardene, ICCL Communications Manager, represented the ICCL at the event and took part in a fruitful information sharing session on policing and protest with colleagues from Israel, Kenya, the UK, Canada, Argentina, South Africa, Hungary and the US. The next network meeting, where further cooperative work is to be developed, will take place in spring 2013, to be hosted by Liberty in London.
For more information on the Swedish Roadmap on Procedural Rights, as well as the Victims’ Directive, please see www.eujusticia.net.
A meeting of INCLO policy and communications staff in McGill University’s Law Department in Montreal, 15 October 2012. L-R: Jennifer Turner (American Civil Liberties Union), Lillian Kantai (Kenyan Human Rights Commission), James Welch (Liberty), Abby Deshman (Canadian Civil Liberties Association), Lila Margalit (Association for Civil Rights in Israel), Sheldon Magardie (LRC, South Africa), Walter Jayawardene (ICCL), Luciana Pol (CELS, Argentina)
MONITORING HUMAN RIGHTS
After the Referendum – the Next Steps for Children’s Rights in Ireland child, not covered by the amendment • the views of the child should be considered in any judicial and administrative proceedings that have a direct impact on the child. 3. Aside from the general statement of the rights of children, the amendment largely focuses on child protection, adoption and family law. There are a range of rights, not covered in the amendment, where gaps in legislative protection exist. These include the child’s right to know his or her identity and reform of the law on guardianship. The Alliance will be campaigning for the introduction of comprehensive legislation to address these outstanding gaps.
Jake Fallon aged 10, Brooke Murray aged 5 and Michael Murray aged 6 with community activist Cathleen O’Neill, former minister Mary O’Rourke, and broadcaster Lorraine Keane at the Iveagh Trust Buildings at Kevin Street in Dublin to promote a Yes vote in Children’s referendum. The photocall was organised by the Children’s Rights Alliance and Yes for Children. Pic: Marc O’Sullivan
Edel Quinn, Legal and Policy team member at the Children’s Rights Alliance reflects on what’s next for Children’s rights following the people’s recent endorsement of the children amendment. This article first appeared as a guest post on the Human Rights in Ireland Blog www.humanrights.ie
Saturday, 10 November 2012 was an historic day for children in this country. The people of Ireland voted in favour of the 31st amendment to the Constitution to strengthen the constitutional rights of children. While the Children’s Referendum was passed by a modest majority of 58% to 42%, the Children’s Rights Alliance remains optimistic about the potential of the amendment for progressing children’s rights in the State. Of course, the amendment alone is not going to address all of the gaps in the protection of children’s rights in Ireland today. Much work remains to be done. Our attention now shifts towards actively lobbying for key actions to bring the amendment to life, and ensure that it truly makes a difference to the lives of children in Ireland. Next Steps: 1. Timely introduction of specific legislation to give effect to the constitutional
provisions. The new article employs a novel, though not unprecedented, approach to a number of the rights provided therein. Some provisions are not constitutional directives but enabling provisions, placing a mandatory obligation on the State to legislate on aspects of adoption (Articles 42A.2.2 and 42A.3), best interests of the child (Article 42A.4.1) and hearing the views of the child (Article 42A.4.2). The wording adopts the imperative “shall” in terms of provision being made in law for these rights. The Alliance will be lobbying for the timely enactment of such legislation and for the strongest legislative provision to be made in these areas. 2. The amendment sets down a legal minimum standard. The Judiciary, when interpreting the amendment and the Oireachtas, when legislating, should build upon this standard. For example, when drafting legislation as directed by Article 42A.4, we call on the Oireachtas to legislate for a broader set of circumstances, including that: • the best interests of the child will be the paramount consideration in child care and child protection proceedings brought by a child or third party against the State and in associated administrative proceedings • the best interests of the child will be a primary consideration in any judicial and administrative decisions concerning the
4. Another key area is the need for support from the Minister for Justice and Equality to the Judicial Studies Institute to instigate judicial studies on the meaning and impact of the amendment. The Alliance will be advocating that the Judiciary and Oireachtas rely on the principles and provisions of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in its interpretation of the amendment, in particular when identifying ‘natural and imprescriptible rights’ for children under Article 42.A.1. 5. The impact of the amendment will be determined not only by the Judiciary and the Oireachtas but also by the budgetary decisions of the Executive. For example, to fully uphold Article 42A.2.1 (child protection), adequate resources will be needed to ensure that the new Child and Family Support Agency can fulfil its duty to protect children and support struggling families. 6. Lastly, while Article 42A.2.1 expressly applies to children, regardless of the marital status of their parents, it does not address the broader right to equality and non-discrimination for both adults and children under the Constitution. Reform of the existing constitutional provision under Article 40.1 should be considered and addressed by the Constitutional Convention which is currently meeting to review aspects of the Constitution. The amendment was the first step towards strengthening the protection of children’s rights but it will prove to be a toothless one without these follow-up measures required to see it through to fruition. We look forward to continuing the journey to making children’s rights a reality in Ireland. For further analysis of the wording of the amendment, please visit www.childrensrights.ie.
MONITORING HUMAN RIGHTS
Hear Our Voices Charter Signatory Appointed as Chair of Convention on the Constitution The ICCL welcomes the recent appointment of Mr Tom Arnold, CEO of Concern Worldwide, as the new chairperson for the Convention on the Constitution. The Council was particularly pleased with Mr Arnold’s appointment given his public support of its Hear Our Voices initiative as a signatory to the Charter. At a recent event organised by the Secretariat to the Convention and promoted through the Hear Our Voices initiative, Mr Arnold said that he welcomed the participation of civil society organisations at relevant stages of the Convention and agreed that it was important to hear the voices of advocates, many of whom who have long campaigned for constitutional reform in Ireland. The ICCL has continued to pursue an open dialogue with the Secretariat and has met with the Chairman to discuss some of the concerns that have been raised in relation to the process, including the Convention’s procedures and the opportunities for participation by civil society within the Convention framework. The ICCL also welcomes the appointment of the remaining twelve Fine Gael TDs and their alternates to the Convention as delegates under the cohort of 33 representatives drawn from political parties across the island. Their appointment brings the total number of delegates, including the Chairperson, to the requisite figure 100, meaning that the work of the Convention may begin. The first meeting of the Convention took place on Saturday 1 December 2012 in Dublin Castle, at which Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste Eamonn Gilmore welcomed the delegates to the Convention and
thanked them for their commitment to the process. At its second meeting in the New Year, and its first deliberative session, delegates discussed the first two items for consideration; (1) reducing the Presidential term of office from seven to five years and (2) the lowering of the State’s voting age from 18 to 17. They recommended that the Presidential term remain unchanged and that the voting age be lowered, preferably to 16. The Government must respond to these proposals within four months. Through its dedicated Hear Our Voices website the ICCL will provide updates on the workings of the Convention including the role of civil society organisations and their ongoing interaction with the Convention process. Users will be also able to monitor the proceedings of the Convention which is streamed live over each weekend that it is in session once deliberations begin. Further information is available from www.hearourvoices.net.
Ireland Elected to UNHRC The ICCL welcomed Ireland’s election on 12 November 2012 to serve a three year term on the United Nations Human Rights Council. This was a very significant achievement for Ireland, given the stiff competition it faced from other Western European states, and was testament to its record in promoting human rights internationally, and to its skilful diplomacy at the United Nations. However, as the ICCL and wider Irish civil society regularly pointed out during the course of Ireland’s Universal Periodic review in 2011, there remains much work to be done before Ireland can be said to have ‘brought home’ those human rights principles it so adroitly promotes on the international stage. The ICCL is looking forward to cooperating closely with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade as it strives to put into practice at domestic level the commitments that it has made to other UN Member States on its election, along with its wider commitments and obligations under the UPR and other international human rights mechanisms.
ICCL signs up to fundraising guiding principles The ICCL has signed up to the Statement of Guiding Principles for Fundraising, which aims to: • Develop fundraising practices in Ireland; • Promote high levels of openness, accountability and transparency among organisations which raise funds from the public; • Provide clarity and assurances to supporters and the general public about the organisations which they support. For further information and to read the full Statement, please visit the ICCL’s website: www.iccl.ie/guiding-principles-for-fundraising.html.
iccl n ews, EVE NTS & pu b lications
Chief Justice Launches Know Your Rights Pack Since the launch of the joint ICCL/ IPRT Know Your Rights pack on the rights of prisoners, work has been ongoing on two further Know Your Rights packs, in partnership with colleagues in the NGO community. 2012 concluded with the launch by Chief Justice, the Hon Ms Susan Denham, of our latest Know Your Rights pack. Launched at an evening event in the Four Courts on 20 December 2012, Know Your Rights – The Rights and Obligations of Civil Partners and Same Sex Couples was produced in partnership with the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN). Penned by GLEN Board Member, Dr Fergus Ryan of the DIT School of Social Sciences and Law, the pack is a comprehensive guide for same- sex couples on their rights and obligations as cohabitants or civil partners. The first quarter of 2013 will see GLEN and the ICCL work collaboratively to distribute and promote the pack nationwide.
ICCL Communications Manager Walter Jayawardene, Chief Justice Susan Denham, ICCL Director Mark Kelly and author Dr Fergus Ryan at the launch of the booklet in the Four Courts on 20 December 2012 Since the people approved the children amendment on 10 November 2012, the legislative and constitutional landscape for children, and for child protection, has changed. The ICCL has been working with the Children’s Rights Alliance and with the UCC School of Law on a Know Your Rights pack on the rights of children in Ireland. This remains in development, and the ICCL and CRA are currently working to update the content to reflect the new legal framework ushered in by the constitutional amendment. 2013 will see the completion and publication of this pack, the sixth in the Know Your Rights series.
Second Annual Youthreach/ICCL Human Rights Prize goes to Sherrard Street
Grace Callery (right) of Sherrard Street Youthreach Centre, winner of the ICCL Youthreach Human Rights competition pictured with Sinead Kennedy of RTÉ Two Tube L-R: Grace Callery and Nicola Maher of Sherrard Street Youthreach Centre, Jury member Bernadette Reilly of the City of Dublin VEC, Leonda Nibbs also of Sherrard Street, and Bethany Waters of Kiltimagh Youthreach Centre, Mayo Sherrard Street became “Equality Street” as the Dublin Youthreach Centre once again emerged as winner of the ICCL/Youthreach Human Rights Competition which was held this autumn for the second time. Sherrard Street Youthreach Student Grace Callery was awarded first place for an innovative equality-themed branding campaign for the D1 Area entitled D1 – Equality Just Got a Home. She was awarded a computer, courtesy of DID electrical, along with a professional work placement. The Dublin centre also celebrated joint second place honours, shared between Leonda Nibbs,
for her handmade ‘anti-bullying’ boardgame Sticks and Stones and Nicola Maher for a comic strip story board about child protection. Bethany Waters, of Kiltimagh Youthreach centre in Mayo came in third place for her poem I Matter Too. The competition, which we launched in 2011 as part of our Universal Periodic Review campaign, is a joint initiative of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) and Youthreach. It calls on Youthreach students nationwide to express themselves about important human rights issues affecting their lives. Entries were invited in any medium:
film, poetry, prose, photography or graphic. This year we also benefited from partnership with UNICEF Ireland, and for the second year running, sponsorship from Gallagher Shatter Solicitors and DID Electrical. Entries to the competition are testament to the creativity and imagination of the young people participating in Youthreach programmes nationwide, and the opportunity that exists to widen the understanding of and engagement with human rights via Youthreach’s extensive network. The ICCL plans to work closely with Youthreach in the coming year to build on the competition’s success and widen its appeal to centres nationwide, citing Sherrard Street and Kiltimagh as examples of how much young people can benefit from participation in this initiative.
iccl n ews, EVE NTS & pu b lications
The 5th Annual Dinner and Lecture for Legal Practitioners The ICCL held its 5th Annual Dinner and Lecture for legal practitioners on Tuesday, 11 December 2012. We welcomed over 90 guests and Hans Nilsson, Head of the Division of Fundamental Rights and Criminal Justice at the Council of the European Union, as our special guest speaker. The topic of his talk was: Criminal justice in Europe - what are we afraid of ? The event provided an opportunity for networking and peer-to-peer exchange among colleagues and also, crucially, to hear a seasoned expert in European policy and legislation assess the criminal justice reforms which have been implemented by European Union institutions and the impact which these developments will have on us here.
Aileen Donnelly SC and Kate Mulkerrins
Catherine Ghent and Freda McKittrick
The ICCL would like to thank all of our guests and Hans Nilsson for joining us for this special evening and for very generously supporting the fundraising raffle. We would also like to acknowledge the support of our event sponsors and friends, including the Bar Council of Ireland, Audi Club and so many others who helped us to make our 5th annual event the best one yet.
Judge Mary Ellen Ring and Mark Kelly
ﾃ］gel Bello-Cortes and Gareth Noble
Jevgenijus Kuzma and Stephen Cras
Marguerite Bolger SC and Cliona Kimber BL
iccl n ews, EVE NTS & pu b lications
Young filmmaker Laura Gaynor Writes about how her success in the Human Rights in Under a Minute Challenge led to an exciting opportunity to develop her filmmaking skills. Last April I entered a film called “On the QT” made as a joint effort between my eleven-year-old brother Robert and myself into the ICCL Human Rights in Under a Minute Challenge. What followed was our mini movie getting through to the last five before emerging as the winner through the public voting.
Applications now open for 2013 ICCL Human Rights Film Awards We are delighted to announce that applications are now open for the 2013 Irish Council for Civil Liberties Human Rights Film Awards. Now entering its fifth year, the ICCL Human Rights Film Awards invites filmmakers and activists to submit an original short film focusing on a particular human rights issue. The aim of the Human Rights Film Awards is to provide film students, filmmakers and those working in human rights with an opportunity to contribute to human rights discourse through the medium of film, grappling with issues which affect some of the most vulnerable members of society. The 2013 competition will also continue to widen its reach to younger people in second-level education through the Human Rights in Under a Minute Challenge, which is benefiting from the support of RTÉ Two Tube, and actor Robert Sheehan of Love/Hate fame. Dollhouse and Disco Pigs director Kirsten Sheridan has been a supporter and Jury member for the competition since its inception in 2008. Speaking on the 2013 competition’s launch she said: “It has been a pleasure to see the ICCL Human Rights Film Awards go from strength to strength since I first got involved in it in 2008. Its aim has been to link up creative people with human rights activists, and to encourage the application of the filmmaker’s craft to the cause of human rights. As it enters its fifth year, the competition has achieved this aim admirably, producing shortlists that are varied, colourful, inspiring, and demonstrate the power of film in treating complex issues in a compelling and accessible way. Robert Sheehan, member of I look forward to seeing what entries the Human Rights in Under a in 2013 bring to the competition”. Minute Challenge Jury
Later that November I got an email from Camera Zizanio (Annual European Meeting of Young Peoples Audiovisual Creation) telling us that our film Human Rights in Under a Minute Challenge had been selected for Jury members Sinead Kennedy of RTÉ Two their competition, and Tube (left)and Tanya Ward of the Children’s that we were invited Rights Alliance (right) with Laura and to spend a week at the Robert Gaynor, the 2012 winners festival in Greece. I got this email during my computer class (where we’re not supposed to venture from career guidance websites) so it was hard to hide my excitement or the fact that I was almost certainly smiling to myself like an idiot! As part of the festival they cover all transport within Greece, hotels, meals out and a day of sightseeing. Camera Zizanio runs during the Olympia International Film Festival for Children and Young People. The festival is held in the seaside city of Pyrgos in western Greece. We had a great week of watching professional short films along with the Camera Zizanio films, which were made by young people from across Europe as well as other countries, like Lebanon. As part of the festival, we were also teamed up with other filmmakers to shoot a film while we were over there as part of “The Mythos Project.” There were filmmakers from loads of different countries and places like Spain, Norway, The Netherlands as well as our friends from Ireland who were there with their feature “Elliot and Me.” The festival also has a sort of festival show called “Zizanio News” which showed every night before the main feature. Robert and I got to be on this too almost every night for some of their sketches. “On The QT” was screened on the last day of Camera Zizanio to an audience from all around Europe and was subtitled into both English and Greek. We also had three other films screened. After the screening, Robert and I had to stand up and talk about the films, which was also translated into Greek by the MC. On the last day of the festival there was a day of sightseeing in Ancient Olympia followed by the Awards later that night where we presented two awards each in the European Section. Although we didn’t win, it was a great opportunity and we had a fantastic week and have made loads of friends from lots of different countries who like making films as much as we do. Full details of how to enter the ICCL’s Human Rights Film Awards and the Human Rights in Under a Minute Challenge can be found at www.humanrightsfilmawards.org.
Rights News, Issue 23, Winter 2012/2013 ISSN 1649-9530