DUBLIN: Irish Prison Inmates Subjected To Cruel, Inhumane & Degrading Treatment: TORTURE: Report: UPDATED

10 Feb


PRISONERS using bottles and plastic bags to urinate and defecate in front of each other in cramped cells are among the “degrading” and “debasing” conditions exposed by an international torture committee.

A Council of Europe report on Ireland said 25% of the prison population — almost 1,000 people — “slopped out” every day because of a lack of toilet facilities.

The Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) accused prison authorities of being “reluctant to take action” against staff accused of mistreating inmates despite supporting evidence.

The CPT 2010 report — over three years on from its last audit — said it had “real concerns as to the safe and humane treatment of prisoners” in older prisons, due to worsening overcrowding and poor conditions.

Its findings include:

* 309 prisoners are crammed into cells at Cork Prison designed for 146, with no in-cell sanitation. In one cell three prisoners on protection, spending up to 23 hours locked up, did not have a chamber pot and shared a bottle to urinate and a plastic bag to defecate.

Many prisoners are allowed just one shower or change of underwear a week.

* Mountjoy “remains unsafe for prisoners and prison staff”, with 632 men packed into a space for a maximum of 540. It said “stabbings, slashings and assaults with various objects are an almost daily occurrence.”

* In E block in Portlaoise Prison, inmates, if they have to defecate at night, are likely “to wrap up the faeces in a parcel and sometimes throw it out of the window”.

The report dramatically suggests that drug security checks on staff going into Mountjoy are not as rigorous as they are for visitors.

The committee highlights four specific allegations of assault on prisoners by staff, where there was supporting evidence, and criticised the investigations that followed.

The inspectors also examined Garda stations and psychiatric hospitals. It said the majority of people they met had no complaints about their time in garda custody, but said there was a “persistence of allegations” of ill-treatment.

The Irish Penal Reform Trust said the report was the most critical yet and urged political parties to address what they said was a “national disgrace”.


Europe‘s leading human rights organisation has found evidence of degrading, dangerous and hazardous conditions in many Irish prisons.

 Mountjoy - Report says assaults happen on an almost daily basis
 Mountjoy – Report says assaults happen on an almost daily basis

Europe’s leading human rights organisation has found evidence of degrading, dangerous and hazardous conditions both for prisoners and staff in a large number of Ireland’s prisons and psychiatric hospitals.

The Strasbourg-based Committee for the Prevention of Torture highlighted a range of problems relating to violence and drug use, as well as a lack of training for personnel.

The Council of Europe, a 47-country organisation promoting democracy and human rights, oversees the committee.

In January and Febuary last year, the committee sent a nine-person delegation to investigate conditions at eight garda stations, six prisons and four hospitals relating to mental health or disabilities.

The delegation found a range of serious problems from overcrowding to drug misuse to gang-related violence within prisons.

The report speaks of Mountjoy Prison having a drug-fuelled gang culture where stabbings, slashings and assaults happen on an almost daily basis.

Conditions in Cork Prison were described as degrading and a health hazard, while the committee urged an end to the continued practice of slopping out at Portlaoise Prison.

The delegation also expressed deep concern at the use of special observation cells, especially due to temperatures and the clothing prisoners were given to wear.

Concern too was expressed at the level of violence between patients and towards staff at both St Brendan‘s and St Ita’s psychiatric hospitals.

The Government has already provided a detailed response to the report and its various recommendations.

It referred to a dramatic increase in the prison population from over 3,000 at the time of the last committee visit in 2006 to over 5,000 prisoners now.

The Irish Penal Reform Trust said candidates in the election should ‘take heed of this national disgrace and commit to rectifying the many human rights issues identified in the report’.

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties has called for the incoming Government to act swiftly to implement the report’s recommendations.


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