From top: a Magdalene Laundry, 1950s; UN Committee Against Torture
The United Nations Committee Against Torture has urged the Government to investigate allegations of ill treatment of women in Magdalene Laundries.
The committee, in a report report published today, said its repeated requests to investigate “allegations of ill-treatment of women at the Magdalen Laundries, prosecute perpetrators and ensure that victims obtain redress and have an enforceable right to compensation, have not been implemented”.
The report states:
Undertake a thorough, impartial investigation into allegations of ill- treatment of women at the Magdalen Laundries that has the power to compel the production of all relevant facts and evidence, and if appropriate, ensure the prosecution and punishment of perpetrators.
Strengthen the State party’s efforts to ensure all victims of ill-treatment who worked in the Magdalen Laundries obtain redress and to this end ensure that all victims have the right to bring civil actions even if they participated in the redress scheme and ensure that such claims concerning historical abuses can continue to be brought “in the interests of justice.
Take further efforts to publicize the existence of the ex gratia scheme to survivors of the Magdalene Laundries living outside Ireland; fully implement the outstanding recommendations on redress made by Justice Quirke.
Promote greater access of victims and their representatives to relevant information concerning the Magdalene Laundries held in private and public archives; and provide information on these additional measures in the State party’s next report to the Committee.
The Committe also criticised inaction in other areas of human rights in Ireland:
Mother and Baby Homes
‘The State party should ensure that it carries out an independent, thorough, and effective investigation into any allegations of ill-treatment, including cases of forced adoption, amounting to violations of the Convention at all of the Mother and Baby Homes and analogous institutions.
That perpetrators of any such acts are prosecuted and punished and that all victims of violations of the Convention obtain redress.
The State party should ensure that information concerning abuses in these institutions should be made accessible to the public to the greatest extent possible.
The State party should initiate an impartial, thorough investigation into the cases of women who have been subjected to symphysiotomy, ensure that criminal proceedings are initiated with respect to any perpetrators of violations of the Convention.
Ensure that survivors of symphysiotomy obtain redress, including compensation and rehabilitation, determined on an individual basis.
Amend the Domestic Violence Bill to include a specific criminal offence of domestic violence that encompasses physical and psychological abuse committed within a relationship and to exempt women seeking protection from domestic violence from the minimum required contribution for legal aid if they cannot afford it.
Ensure that all allegations of violence against women, including domestic and sexual violence, are registered by the police and promptly, impartially and effectively investigated and the perpetrators prosecuted and punished in accordance with the gravity of the crime;
Ensure that State funding for domestic and gender-based violence services is sufficient to ensure that all victims of these offenses, including migrants and the indigent, have access to medical and legal services, counselling, safe emergency accommodation and shelters;
Ensure the provision of post-abortion health care for women irrespective of whether they have undergone an illegal or legal abortion.
Enshrine in its legislation the principle that detention of asylum-seekers should be used as a measure of last resort, for as short a period as possible and in facilities appropriate for their status;
Abuse of older persons and disabled:
The Committee is concerned at reports that older persons and other vulnerable adults are being held in public and privately operated residential care settings in situations of de facto detention, and at reports of cases in which such persons were subjected to conditions that may amount to inhuman or degrading treatment, including the improper use of chemical restraints.
The Committee regrets that although the State party has enacted new legislation that will substantially alter its procedures regarding involuntary confinement in such facilities – the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 – the substantive provisions of this law have not been commenced, and as a result the Lunacy Regulations (Ireland) Act 1871 continue to be in effect.
The Committee is further concerned at reports that the authorities currently entrusted with monitoring residential care facilities are not sufficiently independent nor adequately resourced to perform this function effectively, and at reports that the Ombudsman cannot receive complaints about clinical judgments in privately operated nursing homes.
Sstrengthen the measures aimed at decreasing further the number of persons in the prison system and to reduce overcrowding with a view to bringing conditions of detention in line with international standards enshrined in the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules);
Read full report here
Previously: Magdalene Laundries on Broadsheet