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Ireland

    December 02, 2014

    The Irish Government’s request to reopen the landmark 1978 European Court of Human Rights judgment in Ireland v UK is a triumph of justice, after more than 40 years of waiting, said Amnesty International today. It follows revelations in a television program, The Torture Files, broadcast on an Irish national channel in June that the UK withheld vital information from the European Court at the time.

    In 1978 the European Court ruled that the treatment of 14 so-called ‘hooded men’, who were interned in Northern Ireland in 1971, constituted inhuman and degrading treatment but not torture.  Amnesty International – and clearly Ireland – now considers that the withheld evidence could possibly have led to a finding that the men were tortured.

    Today the Irish High Court was to have heard the men’s application seeking to compel the Irish Government to decide on requesting the European Court to reopen the 1978 judgement. However, Counsel for the state told the Court the Government had already decided to seek a reopening of Ireland v UK.  

    September 19, 2014

    Ireland’s latest guidelines on abortion are mere window-dressing that will confuse health professionals and endanger women’s lives and rights, said Amnesty International.

    “The only thing these guidelines really clarify is the incredibly restrictive and unworkable nature of the existing law,” said Elisa Slattery, sexual and reproductive rights researcher at Amnesty International.

    “Drawing up burdensome guidelines to implement a highly restrictive law that is out of kilter with international human rights standards is an exercise in futility. Issuing guidelines to poor legislation isn’t enough; we need a completely different approach.”

    The guidelines issued today by the Department of Health are intended to ensure that a pregnant woman or girl can access a lawful abortion when there is a “real and substantial risk” to her life.

    This is the only exception permitted under the Irish law known as Protection of Life during Pregnancy Act 2013 (the Act).  

    July 24, 2014

    The Irish authorities must take urgent action to bring the country’s flawed abortion laws in line with its international human rights obligations, Amnesty International said following the UN Human Rights Committee’s strongly worded criticism of the Ireland’s stance on abortion.

    The UN Committee, which monitors states’ compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, found today that Irish abortion laws violate human rights and are in serious breach of the country’s international obligations.

    It stated its concern that terminating a pregnancy is criminalized in most circumstances in the country, carrying a prison sentence of up to 14 years. Women and girls who, for example, have been raped, who are carrying a non-viable pregnancy or whose health is at risk, are forced to either carry the pregnancy to term or travel outside the country to obtain abortions.

    June 19, 2014

    The Irish government’s establishment of an independent Commission of Investigation into ‘mother and baby homes’ must result in an effective and comprehensive investigation that is fully compliant with Ireland’s human rights obligations, Amnesty International said today in a letter to Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny.

    “Ireland’s obligation to ensure truth, justice and reparations for victims of past human rights abuses must be central to the work of this pending Commission of Investigation,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty International.

    “The commission must be mandated to investigate the causes of high infant mortality rates at ‘mother and baby’ homes around the country, as well as other reported concerns including alleged illegal adoption practices, vaccine trials conducted on children without consent, forced labour, and that women were denied adequate medical care.

    “Confronting, acknowledging and dealing with this legacy of past human rights abuses are essential if Ireland is to move forward as a rights-respecting society.”

    June 05, 2014
    Photo: The disturbing "mass grave" allegations must be met with a wider response about state responsibility in cases of systematic child abuse.© Demotix

    Disturbing revelations about an unmarked “mass grave” of up to 800 babies and children found in Tuam, a town in the west of Ireland, must prompt urgent answers from the Irish Government about the wider issue of past child abuse in state-run and sponsored institutions, said Amnesty International today.

    “This shocking case needs immediate attention and answers from the Irish Government. A thorough investigation must be carried out into how these children died and if ill-treatment, neglect or other human rights abuses factored into their deaths. We also need to know why these children were not afforded the respect of a proper and dignified burial,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Program Director at Amnesty International.

    June 05, 2014

    Allegations aired last night in a documentary by Irish state broadcaster RTÉ that the UK Government sanctioned the use of torture in Northern Ireland in the 1970s, and failed to disclose relevant evidence to the European Court of Human Rights, underline the failure to deliver a comprehensive mechanism to deal with the past, said Amnesty International.

    In 1971, Ireland took the first inter-state case to come before the European Court on Human Rights, alleging Britain had breached the European Convention on Human Rights. The use of torture during internment was central to that case which became known as the “hooded men” case.

    The documentary, The Torture Files, was based on investigations carried out by Northern Irish human rights NGO the Pat Finucane Centre and RTÉ. It further alleges that the UK Government did not disclose relevant evidence to the European Court of Human Rights in its defence of the case.

    April 24, 2014

    Twelve times Grammy Awards winner Paul Simon was at Dublin airport yesterday to unveil a tapestry in honour of the late Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney on behalf of Amnesty International.

    Seamus Heaney, arguably the greatest Irish poet of his generation, was a strong supporter of Amnesty International for more than three decades.

    He even dedicated a poem to the movement titled “From the Republic of Conscience” which was the inspiration for the Ambassador of Conscience Award recognizing individuals who have promoted the cause of human rights through their life and by example.

    “Seamus’s poetry, although it springs from the Irish soil, has a beauty and wisdom that nourishes anyone who reads it, in all the languages it is printed,” said Paul Simon as he described how the Nobel Laureate’s inspirational work.

    The tapestry, commissioned for Amnesty International, was also supported by U2 lead singer Bono. It will now be seen by an estimated 10 million passengers each year as they travel through the airport’s Terminal Two.

    September 17, 2013

    Pakistani schoolgirl and education rights campaigner Malala Yousafzai and American singer, human rights and social justice activist Harry Belafonte were today jointly announced as the recipients of Amnesty International’s Ambassador of Conscience Award for 2013.

    -        The Award will be presented at a ceremony on Tuesday evening at the Mansion House, Dublin, Ireland.

    -        Images and video footage of the Award Ceremony will be available on the night.

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