Tuesday, 8 April 2014
Department of Justice and Equality
UN Conventions Ratification
415. To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality the progress, following the signing by Ireland of the Optional Protocol of the Convention against Torture on 2 October 2007, on ratifying this important component of the UN's human rights treaties; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16760/14]
The Government has approved drafting of the General Scheme of an Inspection of Places of Detention Bill. The General Scheme is currently being prepared.
In addition to other measures, the Bill will include provisions to enable ratification of the United Nations Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OP-CAT). In this context, the Bill will, in particular, make provision for the designation of national bodies with responsibility for inspecting places of detention as so-called National Preventive Mechanisms (for the prevention of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment). A number of bodies in this jurisdiction, e.g. the Office of the Inspector of Prisons, already have responsibility for inspecting places where persons are deprived of their liberty.
It is expected that the General Scheme of the Places of Detention Bill will be completed later this year. Subject to Government approval of my legislative proposals, I intend to publish the General Scheme with a view to facilitating a public consultation process in advance of drafting and publication of the Bill.
416. To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality the progress on ratifying the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, which Ireland signed on 29 March 2007; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16761/14]
The International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance requires each State Party to take the necessary measures to ensure that enforced disappearance constitutes an offence under its criminal law. For the purposes of the Convention, "enforced disappearance" is considered to be "the arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty by agents of the State or by persons or groups of persons acting with the authorisation, support or acquiescence of the State, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person, which place such a person outside the protection of the law".
Article 40.4.1 of the Constitution provides that no citizen shall be deprived of their liberty save in accordance with law.
Ratification of the Convention requires domestic legislation.
Section 15 of the Non Fatal Offences against the Person Act provides for an offence of false imprisonment which addresses circumstances where a person is taken or detained, or whose personal liberty is restricted by another person without the consent of the person involved. A person guilty of false imprisonment is liable or on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for up to life.
Consent is deemed to be absent where the person responsible obtains the other's consent by force or threat of force, or by deception causing the other to believe that he or she is under legal compulsion to consent.
The Act also provides for a child abduction offence.
Ireland is committed to ratification of the Convention as soon as competing legislative priorities permit.
I refer the Deputy to my written response of 11 March 2014, and to the response given by my colleague, Minister of State Kathleen Lynch on 27 February 2014, in which she informed the House that the Government intends to proceed to ratification of the Convention as quickly as possible, taking into account the need to ensure all necessary legislative and administrative requirements under the Convention are met. As the Deputy may be aware, Ireland does not become party to treaties until it is first in a position to comply with the obligations imposed by them, including the amendment of domestic law as necessary.
An interdepartmental committee on the Convention is monitoring the remaining legislative and administrative actions required to enable ratification. As part of its work programme, the committee has identified issues to be considered by various Departments. It is a matter for these Departments to determine whether any actions are required to address the issues in advance of ratification and report back to the committee. This work is ongoing in all Departments. At the request of the committee, the National Disability Authority, the lead statutory agency for the sector, is also assisting in assessing remaining requirements for ratification to ensure that all outstanding issues will be comprehensively addressed.
For my Department one of the key requirements is the enactment of capacity legislation. The programme for Government contains a commitment to introduce a Bill in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Bill, published on 17 July 2013, provides a series of options to support people with impaired capacity to make decisions and exercise their basic rights in line with the principles of the UN Convention. It undertakes a comprehensive reform of existing legislation governing capacity. The Bill will go to Committee Stage shortly. The enactment of this legislation is one of the core elements of the remaining work to be completed to enable ratification by the State of the UN Convention.