Tag Archives: ICCL

This afternoon.

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties launched an Election 2020 Manifesto in which it has asked political candidates and parties to commit to eight calls to action.

They are:

“Establish Safe Access Zones at medical facilities so that women and pregnant people can access abortion care in privacy, safety and with dignity.

Introduce Hate Crime legislation so that we all feel safer from hateful attacks.

Protect our privacy and data by halting the illegal Public Services Card project.

Establish a new Independent Office of the Police Ombudsman so that we can all have confidence in An Garda Síochána.

Implement inspections of all places of detention in order to prevent torture behind closed doors.

Establish an Ombudsman for Victims of Crime to ensure justice for victims of crime.

Outlaw image-based sexual abuse to prevent non-consensual creation and/or sharing of intimate images.

Reform the Electoral Act to allow civil society organisations to function without fear.”

The manifesto can be read in full here

Previously: “It’s A Photograph. Let’s Call It What It Is”

Via ICCL

Via The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL)

We agree with the organisations and independent experts that have called for an end to Direct Provision.

Ireland’s history of grave and systematic abuse in institutions should make it obvious that the State cannot discharge its constitutional, European or international human rights responsibilities towards individuals who need the State’s assistance by (1) outsourcing social service provision to private, largely unaccountable, commercial entities and (2) containing people in institutions operated by those entities.

We also agree with the recommendations  from the Irish Refugee Council (IRC) and the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (MASI)) that the Department of Justice is not the appropriate Department with which to place responsibility for meeting the accommodation, health and other social service needs of people seeking international protection.

The direct testimonies of people living in Direct Provision – particularly their experiences of being isolated from society, being forced into a relationship of almost total dependency on the managers of the institutions in which they live, and being denied access to many basic opportunities and services in Irish society – convey a clear sense that people in Direct Provision feel, and are effectively, living in punitive detention.

We believe that the fact of placing responsibility for Direct Provision in the Department of Justice contributes to this penal culture and practice.

We are reminded of the treatment of a group of survivors of the Magdalene Laundries who applied to the ex gratia scheme which the Department of Justice has administered since 2013, and whose experiences were the subject of the Ombudsman’s Report in late 2017, Opportunity Lost.

The Ombudsman’s report demonstrated that there was a culture of disbelieving survivors within the Department of Justice, and of going overboard to ‘protect against fraudulent claims’.

The Department that had been responsible for detaining girls and women in Magdalene Laundries, both as part of the ordinary criminal justice system and on an ad hoc basis through the involvement of An Garda Síochána, was not of an appropriate mindset to administer ‘restorative justice’ measures to women who had suffered grave human rights violations in Magdalene Laundries.

ICCL submission on Direct Provision

ICCL

Earlier: Blue Wave

The Best Banned in the Land – A Forum on Artistic Freedom of Expression.

On Tuesday, April 30, from 11am until 4pm.

At the Projects Arts Centre in Temple Bar, East Sussex Street, Dublin 2.

Irish Council for Civil Liberties writes:

The ordered removal of Maser’s Repeal the 8th mural has brought censorship to the fore once again. Is freedom of artistic expression being limited in Ireland? Are issues such as funding, promotion, social media restrictions and discrimination creating conditions for self-censorship?

Join a host of artists and activists as we remember and examine the role of censorship. Guests include Be Aware Theatre Company, Lian Bell, Donal Fallon, Declan Long, Una Mullally, and more to be announced.

A light lunch will be provided.

More here

Martin McAleese with his report into the Magdalene Laundries

This weekend.

The Frontline DefendersDublin Human Rights Festival will take place at the Wood Quay Venue, Smock Alley Theatre and The International Bar.

As part of the festival…

Tomorrow, at 1pm, at the Wood Quay Venue…

Maeve O’Rourke, of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, will present a follow-up report to the Department of Justice’s assertion that there is an “absence of any credible evidence of systematic torture or criminal abuse” in the Magdalen Laundries.

Specifically, in August 2018, the Department of Justice told the UN Committee Against Torture:

“While isolated incidents of criminal behaviour cannot be ruled out, in light of facts uncovered by the McAleese Committee and in the absence of any credible evidence of systematic torture or criminal abuse being committed in the Magdalen laundries, the Irish Government does not propose to set up a specific Magdalen inquiry or investigation. It is satisfied that the existing mechanisms for the investigation and, where appropriate, prosecution of criminal offences can address individual complaints of criminal behaviour if any such complaints are made.”

The Department of Justice’s assertion came after the Sate rejected the UN Committee Against Torture’s call for an investigation into allegations of ill treatment of women in Magdalene Laundries.

Ms O’Rourke will also be joined by Stixy Nyaluso, of the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland, who will outline some of the conditions experienced by people living in Direct Provision.

The Dublin Human Rights Festival is organized in partnership with the Dublin City Council, Irish Council for Civil Liberties, National Women’s Council of Ireland, Fighting Words, the Latin America Solidarity Centre and the National LGBT Federation.

See programme of events here

Previously: ‘The Irish Government Does Not Believe A New Inquiry Is Warranted’

UNfinished Business

Standing By McAleese

The McAleese Report: A Conclusion

Dr Maeve O’Rourke

Yesterday evening.

Dr Maeve O’Rourke, human rights lawyer and senior research and policy officer at the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, posted a series of tweets about how Ireland is continuing to cover up for its collusion with the Catholic Church.

She tweeted: “The abuse is not ‘historic’, it is ongoing and we are all implicated.”

These were her tweets…

Previously: Open The Files

Pic: Maeve O’Rourke

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Office of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission on Abbey Street Upper, Dublin

Further to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission accessing journalists’ phone records as part of investigations into alleged leaks to media, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties has created a ‘handy guide to phone number snooping powers’.

It explains…

Is GSOC allowed to gain access to this information under Irish law?

Yes. Both the Gardaí and investigators with GSOC can access phone records and other personal information, if it is needed to assist them with an investigation of a possible crime. In this instance, GSOC has the same powers to investigate the Gardaí as the Gardaí would have if they were investigating anyone else on suspicion of an offence.

How? In what circumstances?

The key here is that a Garda who leaks confidential information could be guilty of an offence. Under section 62 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005, it is an offence to disclose information received in the course of duties as a Garda if the Garda knows that the information is likely to have a “harmful effect”. This includes, for example, information that is published and relates to the victim of a crime or a witness to a criminal trial, or leads to a serious infringement of a person’s right to privacy (as well as other issues).

The same piece of 2005 legislation (section 98) gives members of GSOC the same powers as Gardaí if they are investigating a potential offence.

And, since 2011, Gardaí have the power to access phone records (Communications (Retention of Data) Act 2011).

It follows that, because GSOC investigators are looking at a potential offence – the leaking of confidential information – they also have the power to access personal records, including those of third parties like journalists.

Sounds a bit like Big Brother. Is there no protection for our right to privacy?

Yes there is, but it’s weak.

GSOC investigators would have to get sign off by one of the three members of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission. That’s all.

How about authorisation from an external body? I thought there was “judicial oversight”?

No, both the Gardaí and GSOC can obtain sign off for these powers without referring to any external body.

A judge does not need to give permission for these records to be obtained.

However, a judge reviews the access requests made by State agencies and gives a report to the Taoiseach, at least every year. The judge can also investigate cases.

Also, if you have reason to think that your data has been requested by the Gardaí, GSOC or other State body, you can make a complaint to the “Complaints Referee”.

Do GSOC and the Gardaí have other powers to gather private information?

Yes, since 1993, the Gardaí have had a lawful power to intercept telephone calls and, since 2009, to engage in hidden surveillance. In 2015, both of these powers were also extended to GSOC investigators.

Again, the privacy safeguards surrounding these activities by GSOC and the Gardaí are weak.

What about protection of journalists’ sources?

A journalist’s right to protect sources or, journalistic privilege, is a key pillar of the freedom of the press. This is protected under Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and has been acknowledged formally as a constitutional principle by the Supreme Court in Mahon Tribunal v Keena and Kennedy. This does not mean that journalists can never be forced to reveal their sources, but any order to do so must be proportionate, and subject to strict oversight, for example by a judge.

What does the ICCL think should happen now?

We agree with the Minister for Justice and Equality that there needs to be a full review of all of these powers. That review must be independent, transparent and use human rights standards around data protection and privacy as key benchmarks. Particular attention should be paid to the case law of the European Court of Human Rights under Article 8 (right to privacy) of the European Convention of Human Rights, as well as relevant case law of the European Court of Justice. The recommendations must be published and acted upon promptly, with a clear implementation schedule.

ICCL release a “handy guide” to the “phone snooping” powers of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) and An Garda Síochána (ICCL)

Cabinet to discuss GSOC access of journalists’ phone records (RTE)

Previously: They Snoop To Conquer

Mark Stedman/Rollingnews.ie

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ICCL (Irish Council for Civil Liberties) director Mark Kelly and Marie O’Connor, chairof the Survivors of Symphysiotomy this morning.

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties writes:

The unanimous rejection of the scheme came via a ballot by members of the Survivors of Symphysiotomy group held during Extraordinary General Meetings in Cork and Dublin over the weekend (27 and 28 September 2014). The scheme, which was presented to members of SoS earlier this month by Minister for Health Dr Leo Varadkar TD, proposes a baseline ex-gratia payment of €50,000 for each survivor who can provide proof of surgery, with​ higher payments for women who can show they suffer from a complex array of injuries that were caused directly by symphysiotomy.

Marie O’Connor, Chairperson of Survivors of Symphysiotomy, which represents 99 per cent of casualties of this 18th century childbirth operation, said:

“Our members have voted unanimously to reject the unfair and unjust scheme as outlined to us by the Minister for Health. This is an ex gratia scheme that admits of no wrongdoing on the part of the State and offers utterly inadequate levels of restitution for the physical and mental suffering that has blighted so many lives.”

“The Government has never engaged meaningfully with Survivors of Symphysiotomy. Not alone was this scheme presented to us as a fait accompli but it flouts key recommendations made by the UN. Survivors of Symphysiotomy is united in its opposition to this unacceptable scheme and will support efforts by its members to achieve truth and justice through the courts.”

ICCL Director Mr Mark Kelly adds:

“This scheme willfully ignores some of Ireland’s most fundamental obligations under international human rights law. It forces survivors to choose between compensation and justice. It contains no measures to get to the truth of how and why these barbaric operations took place. It also lacks any measures to bring those responsible to account.”

Rights groups reject symphysiotomy redress proposals that “flout” human rights standards (ICCL)

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Sir Nigel Rodley, UN Human Rights Committee chairman and, right, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald in Geneva last Tuesday.

Youu may recall how 16 civil society organisations from Ireland gave brief speeches to the UN Human Rights Committee last week, as part of the committee’s monitoring of states’ compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (which Ireland signed in October 1973 and ratified in December 1989). The committee also questioned Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald and certain civil servants.

The UN committee will officially respond to these discussions on Thursday.

And, following chairman  Sir Nigel Rodley’s saying how the very idea of symphysiotomy kept him awake at night during his damning closing remarks, it’s expected that Ireland won’t be getting much positive feedback.

The civil groups will respond to the UN committee’s findings on Thursday at 2pm in the Radisson Blu Hotel, Golden Lane, Dublin 8.

Previously: What Ties Them Together

ollie
[Former Garda Confidential Recipient Oliver Connolly]

Further to comments by Oliver Connolly yesterday that he will neither comment nor ‘not validate, either by way of confirmation or repudiation, the contents of an alleged transcript unlawfully procured’.

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties writes:

“The ICCL is somewhat bemused by the suggestion from the former Confidential Recipient Oliver Connolly that the law “prevents” his commentary on “any confidential report or discussions” held while he occupied his former role.

The An Garda Síochána (Confidential Reporting of Corruption or Malpractice) Regulations 2007 (SI 168 of 2007) to which Mr Connolly refers contain protections for the identity of a whistleblower. However, the regulations do not address the situation of a whistleblower such as Sergeant Maurice McCabe who has voluntarily disclosed his identity and chosen to waive the confidentiality of an alleged conversation with Oliver Connolly.

Moreover, it is hard to understand how the law could “prevent” Mr Connolly from repudiating statements attributed to him in Sergeant McCabe’s transcript if those statements were not made. Legally and logically, a statement that was not made could not possibly be covered either by the 2007 Regulations or the Official Secrets Act 1963 (as amended).”

ICCL comment on recent statement by Mr Oliver J. Connolly, former Garda Confidential Recipient (ICCL)