Home > New Judgments and Cases to Watch > Religion and Diet in Irish Prisons.

Religion and Diet in Irish Prisons.

The Irish Independent reports today that a Jewish prisoner of British origin has taken an action in the High Court, claiming that certain of his constitutional rights have been breached by Cloverhill Prison’s failure to provide kosher meals.  Although the case appears to be the first of its kind in Ireland, the judgment has not been reported in any detail. However, we do know that the High Court refused the reliefs sought, “ruling that it was satisfied that Cloverhill prison had taken every step to ensure that the prisoner’s dietary requirements were being met”. The Deputy Governor of the prison has also acceded to a request that the Jewish Representative Council of Ireland visit the kitchens to inspect them and advise staff on compliance with the kashrut laws.  The facts in today’s story are very similar to (so much so that it is likely that they deal with the same prisoner) those in Dunne v. High Court, a case from July of this year in which a Jewish prisoner of British origin challenged the decision of Westminster Magistrate’s court  to accede to the Irish High Court’s application for extradition, inter alia on the grounds that his rights under Article 3 of the ECHR (to freedom from torture, inhuman and degrading treatment) would be breached by Irish prison staff’s anticipated refusal to respect his kosher diet.  The English High Court held that the Article 3 threshold was not reached because an “absence of evidence that prison staff in Ireland will guarantee service of exclusively… kosher food does not amount to a real risk of inhuman and degrading conduct”.

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