Sir Nigel Rodley
Over the last two days the UN Human Rights Committee in open hearings in Geneva, Switzerland has been examining Ireland’s human rights record.
The committee’s chairman Sir Nigel Rodley closed proceedings today with an address that included the following..
Ireland’s treatment of women:
“the Magdalene Laundries, the Mother and Baby Homes, the child abuse, the symphysiotomy – it’s quite a collection and it’s a collection that has carried on [for a] period that it’s hard to imagine any state party tolerating. And I guess I can’t prevent myself from observing that [they] are not disconnected from the institutional belief system that has predominated in the state party.”
On Ireland’s laws on women’s reproductive rights:
“the recognition of the primary right to life of the woman who is an existent human being has to prevail over that of the unborn child and I can’t begin to understand by what belief system the priority would be given to the latter rather than the former. It is good to see that in 2013 at last that is clearly being clarified. I’m sorry that the clarification does not extend to the health of the woman.”
On the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act:
“Life without quality of life is not something many of us have to choose between, and to suggest that regardless of the health consequences of a pregnancy a person may be doomed to continue it at the risk of criminal penalties is difficult to understand, even more so arguably for rape where the person doesn’t even bear any responsibility and is by the law clearly treated as a vessel and nothing more.”