To mark the tenth anniversary of the direct provision and dispersal system, FLAC launched its report One Size Doesn’t Fit All. The report updates the 2003 FLAC report Direct Discrimination? which looked at the way in which asylum seekers and persons seeking other forms of protection were accommodated in Ireland, set apart from other destitute individuals. The title of the report refers to the way in which the direct provision and dispersal system is operated: Residents are not treated as human beings but rather as a collective group without individual needs or personal circumstances.
Direct provision and dispersal was introduced as a nationwide policy in April 2000. It was introduced initially to alleviate the housing shortage faced by the Eastern Health Board due to the high numbers of people coming to seek asylum in Ireland. Ireland is a party to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention and it is important to understand that anyone who comes to Ireland “to seek and to enjoy… asylum from persecution” is entitled to enter and remain here until a final determination is reached on their protection status. Despite the dramatic decrease in the number of asylum seekers, the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform (DJELR) continues to operate the policy of accommodating persons seeking protection in centres where they are given three meals a day at set times and a weekly allowance of €19.10 for an adult and €9.60 for a child. This is the only social welfare payment never to have increased.
We are delighted to welcome this guest contribution from Charles O’Mahony of the Centre for Disability Law and Policy at NUI Galway. This is cross posted from the Disability Law News blog. You can find out more about Charles on the guest contributors page.
Safeguarding Persons with Disability from Abuse and Exploitation
There is a growing awareness around abuse perpetrated against vulnerable groups in our society. In particular, elder abuse and child abuse now seem to be firmly ingrained in public consciousness and in the consciousness of policy makers and legislators. However, as we saw this week with the discussion and debate around the publication of the Report into the death of Tracey Fay problems remain in the provision of adequate protection and in the investigation and reporting of the states failings. To see a blog post on this click here.
There is a feeling that the issue of abuse of persons with disabilities has not evolved to the same level of consciousness surrounding child and elder abuse. For example, last month it was reported that more than 500 official complaints (approx three a week) over the past two and a half years have been made regarding abuse and mistreatment of persons with disabilities in residential settings. To see a blog post on this click here. The reaction to the report in the Irish Times was not on the scale that one might have expected (or hoped) and the level of debate not as insightful. Following the report there was no perception of urgency in introducing mandatory standards and independent inspections of these services. Read more…
We are very pleased to welcome this guest contribution from Rachael Walsh, a PhD candidate in Trinity College Dublin, on lessons for Irish courts from the US experience of compulsory acquisition of land for the purposes of private development. You can learn more about Rachael on our Guest Contributors page.
Compulsory Acquisition for Private Redevelopment – Lessons from the U.S.
A basic legal principle in most jurisdictions that protect the right to private property is that the State cannot take an individual’s property and transfer it to another person in order to confer a private benefit. Rather, the State must have a public purpose of some kind to support its use of compulsory acquisition powers. This limit on the State’s power safeguards an individual’s right to possession of his or her property rather than simply to the value of the property, as the State is not free to take property just because it pays compensation to the dispossessed owner.
Controversy has arisen in the U.S. over whether “economic development” is a sufficiently public purpose to support a compulsory acquisition of private property for redevelopment by another private individual or entity, reaching its height in the debate surrounding the Supreme Court’s decision in Kelo v City of New London 545 U.S. 469 (U.S. 2005). The Court held that New London, which was designated a “distressed area” because of its high unemployment rate, could compulsorily acquire the applicants’ homes in order to implement a development plan for the area. The plan was drawn up when Pfizer announced it intended to build a $300 million research facility in the city, and it proposed the construction of a waterfront conference hotel, restaurants, shopping and marinas, as well as research and development office space. In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court upheld New London’s exercise of its compulsory acquisition powers. The decision has been widely criticised in the U.S. and has galvanised the property rights movement, resulting in amendments to state constitutions to limit the use of compulsory acquisition powers. Unfortunately, in New London the planned construction has not happened, and the acquired lands remain undeveloped. To add insult to injury, Pfizer announced it was pulling out of the city in November 2009. (New York Times report) Read more…
France is currently updating its domestic abuse laws. The legislation has been passed by the lower house and now awaits senate approval. There has been unusual cross-party support for the new provisions which have provoked considerable derision in the Anglophone blogosphere. There are two key changes which have been made to the law: the criminalisation of psychological abuse in intimate relationships and the tagging of people barred from the family home.
On Friday 26 February, Human Rights in Ireland will host a mini Blog Carnival on the draft wording for a constitutional amendment on the child set out in the final report of the Oireachtas Committee on the Constitutional Amendment on Children.
Postings could take a number of different forms, including:
- Analyses of the draft wording in terms of its capacity to address current shortcomings in children’s rights protection under the constitutional framework. Topics of particular interest would include the implications of the draft wording for the realisation of children’s rights in areas such as child protection, adoption/guardianship, child poverty, refugee children, children in care and children in custody.
- Issues surrounding a forthcoming referendum on the draft wording. What forms are the various campaigns around any such referendum likely to take? What obstacles exist with regard to advancing or improving the wording as it stands? What factors will influence the ultimate outcome of such a referendum?
As well as relying on the in-house expertise of Human Rights in Ireland bloggers, those in the human rights, community, voluntary and other related sectors are invited to submit proposals for commentary that they may wish to make on the budget. Blog posts should be between 400-1,000 words (max).
Those interested are asked to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org (before noon 24 February 2010) so that a full Blog Programme can be ready to upload on 26 February.
The Rule of Law Inches Forward: UN Sanctions in EU Law
Chafiq Ayadi is one of only two individuals resident in Ireland whose assets are frozen under the UN sanctions regime established by UN Security Council resolution 1267. Two years ago I published a short note in the 2007 Dublin University Law Journal (‘Ayadi v Council: Competence and Justice in the “War on Terrorism”’  Dublin University Law Journal 426) critically commenting upon the decision of the EU General Tribunal (then the Court of First Instance) in his legal challenge to the freezing of his assets (Ayadi v Council). I concluded, somewhat pessimistically, by noting that
For the European resident targeted by the sanctions, access to justice is guarded by Kafka’s doorkeepers. For his subsistence, the individual must petition his government. For his delisting, he must petition the Sanctions Committee. For protection of his rights, he must wait, for the doorkeepers are many and the door, though apparently open, cannot be passed through.
We are pleased to welcome this guest post from Diarmuid Griffin, Lecturer in Law at NUI Galway. You can read more about Diarmuid on our Guest Contributors Page.
The National Commission on Restorative Justice published its final report in December 2009. The Commission, announced in March 2007, was set up to examine the wider application of restorative justice within the criminal justice system. The Commission was established following the report of the Joint Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women’s Rights which recommended the development of a restorative justice programme for adult offenders in the Irish criminal justice system.
Restorative justice programmes can already be seen in operation in Ireland for juvenile offenders through the Garda Diversion Programme or a court-referred Probation Service Conference and ad hoc programmes dealing with adult offenders in Nenagh and Tallaght. While there are various different models of restorative justice, the practice generally involves the bringing together of the victim, offender and, where possible, members of the community to negotiate the outcome for the offending behaviour. For example, rather than sentencing an offender to a traditional term in prison a judge may refer an offender into a restorative programme where such a negotiation may occur.
In its final report, the Commission recommends the national implementation of restorative justice for adult offenders. The Commission believes that such a programme “will make a positive contribution to the lives of all citizens, and particularly to those more closely connected to the offending behaviour.” Having conducted an extensive examination of the use of restorative justice in Ireland and in other jurisdictions, the report attempts to provide a workable framework for the development of restorative justice that is mindful of both economic and criminal justice realities.