This Thursday (1 December) Clare’s Prisons (Solitary Confinement) (Amendment) Bill 2016 will be debated in the Dáil.
The Bill creates a definition of solitary confinement in Irish law for the first time, and, if passed, would place statutory restrictions on holding prisoners in isolation for long periods.
Currently in Ireland there is no definition of solitary confinement – instead, prisoners are held on ‘restricted regimes’ or ‘on protection’. The Minister for Justice stated last September that ‘there is no provision for solitary confinement in the Irish Prison Service’. But the reality is that prisoners being locked up for 22 to 24 hours a day and deprived of meaningful human contact – the internationally accepted definition of solitary – does happen in Irish prisons, and the State can’t ignore its human rights obligations in regard to the practice by pretending it doesn’t.
Data obtained in October by The Detail show that prisoners in Ireland may be held in solitary confinement for months, and in some cases over a year. Commenting on those figures, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Mendez, said: ‘There is no question to me that those people are suffering what constitutes cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and perhaps depending on the gravity of their suffering – even torture.’
To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the discussions he had with US Secretary of State John Kerry on 30 October 2016 regarding the situation in Yemen; his views regarding whether the use of Shannon Airport by the US military was also discussed at the meeting; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
– Clare Daly.
For ORAL answer on Wednesday, 23rd November, 2016.
Ref No: 36090/16 Lottery: 13 Proof: 27
I met with Secretary of State Kerry on 30 October, in advance of him being awarded the 2015 Tipperary Peace Award. Most of the discussion focussed on Brexit and the Northern Ireland Peace Process, but we also spoke about other matters, including a brief discussion about the situation in Yemen. We discussed the prospects for political negotiations, to bring an end to the fighting.
There have been some reports, in recent days, of parties to the conflict indicating their willingness to engage with the peace roadmap set out by UN Special Envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed and his team, although reports of continued fighting are also widespread. As I have said before, the only solution to this conflict is a political one and, for the sake of the civilian population who continue to suffer the longer this war continues, I hope that the parties embrace this latest opportunity to broker peace.
Secretary of State Kerry and I did not discuss Shannon airport, its use by the US military or otherwise.