Archive for November, 2009

European Community ratifies the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

November 30, 2009 Leave a comment

In the final week of November 2009, the EC has ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The CRPD is the first international treaty of the 21st century and it is a result of five years of negotiations with strong involvement from the disability movement. Since its entry into international law on May 3rd 2008, it continues to be ratified across the globe. To-date, the CRPD has 143 signatories and 74 ratifications.

What will the EU’s ratification mean for its disabled citizens? Its ratification gives the 65 million disabled people living in Europe hope that the EU recognises disability as a human rights issue. At EU level, the CRPD obliges it State Parties to revise existing legislation, policies and programmes to ensure they are in compliance with the Conventions provisions. The thirty or more articles of the CRPD cover all area’s of life ranging from access to education, employment, independent living and development cooperation. Ratifying the CRPD means that the EU across its institutions and programmes will have to work towards progressing inclusion for disabled people in the areas listed above and many more.

On a member state level, 12 countries so far have ratified the Convention (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Portugal, and the UK). Yannis Vardakastanis, President of the Brussels-based European Disability Forum, stressed: “The European Union has not only achieved a major step in its history, but it is also sending a positive signal to its Member States that haven’t ratified the Convention yet.”

While the CRPD’s ratification was welcomed by many disability groups in the EU, there was also disappointment with regard to; the delay in ratifying the Optional Protocol (which enables complainants to communicate directly with the Conventions committee regarding violations by a state of provisions of CRPD) and the reservation of the Council to exclude the employment of disabled people in the armed forces.

Ireland signed the Convention in March 2007, however as of yet has given no definite timetable for its ratification. It is time now for our government to consider joining alongside its fellow EU member states and ratify the Convention to ensure continued protection of the rights for its 393,786 disabled citizens.

20,000 Reads – Help HRinI to Grow

November 30, 2009 Leave a comment

Today, Human Rights in Ireland passed the 20,000 reads mark, and we now have regular readers from all over the world. Very advanced for a four month old! We want to thank all our readers for motivating us to provide frequent and up to date commentary and we are delighted with the positive feedback that we have received so far.

It is a busy time for rights issues in Ireland and internationally, and every day we come across dozens of news stories and policy documents that we would love to share with you. The blog is growing so quickly because people, particularly in Ireland, are really interested in learning about the rights perspective on current affairs. But often we don’t have the time or expertise to cover all of these issues in as much detail as we would like and so some important developments inevitably fall by the wayside or aren’t given the coverage they deserve. So, we want to extend again an open invitation to our readers to help us out in the following ways:

If you are a specialist in a particular area of human rights law or human rights policy and would like contribute a guest post (500 – 1000 words) on a matter of current interest, you are more than welcome to email fiona.delondras[at] with your suggestion at any time. If we like the sound of the topic -and we usually do- you will have a guest post on HRinI in no time at all. PhD candidates and NGOs are especially welcome to co-operate with us in publicising their research. We can now promise a wide and informed audience and guest blogging with us is a great way to ‘have your say’ without taking on the responsibility of setting up your own blog. It goes without saying that experts from disciplines other than law are welcome to join in.

If you are running a conference or event of relevance to our readers, let us know by emailing any of the regular contributors – our emails are at the end of a Google search. We also welcome reports on relevant conferences and events.

If you are a blogging buff and you can think of something that we ought to be doing to make HRinI even better, let us know.

We are keen to highlight new scholarship by Irish (having worked or studied at a university on this island counts – and if you want to propose a broader definition for us to work with, you are welcome to do so) academics on human rights issues, as well as scholarship about human rights issues affecting Ireland. If you have published (SSRN counts) something new that fits this description, or have come across such a piece in your reading, let us know.

We welcome suggestions for blog events. Our recent immigration blog carnival was a great success, and we are very interested in collaborating with guest bloggers who have exciting ideas for new events.

Thanks again for your support, and here’s to 20,000 more reads.

The HRinI team

Categories: Blog Housekeeping

Demjanjuk Nazi Trial Begins Today

November 30, 2009 Leave a comment

The trial of Ohio-resident John Demjanjuk on charges of being an accessory as a Nazi guard in the murder of 27,900 people in the Nazi death camp Sobibor in 1943 started today. If convicted, he could face a prison sentence of up to 15 yearsthat he is extremely unlikely to fulfill. (Read here, here, here). In the early 1980s, Demjanjuk was accused of being the notorious guard “Ivan the Terrible” at the Treblinka death camp. He was deported to Israel in 1986 and sentenced to death in 1988, but the Israeli Supreme Court overturned his conviction in 1993 after finding reasonable doubt that he was the guard in question. In 2002, the U.S. Justice Department charged Demjanjuk with being a guard at Sobibor and revoked his citizenship for lying about his Nazi past in order to gain citizenship. He was extradited to Germany in May after new evidence allowed the current charges to be brought. He cannot be tried under US law. Read more…

Gender Recognition Legislation in the New Year?

November 30, 2009 8 comments

The Irish Examiner reports today that, on foot of a Green Party proposal, legislation ‘allowing transsexuals to be recognised in their acquired gender’ will go before the Dail in the new year. The Examiner reports that ‘the state has dropped an appeal of a High Court decision that it is in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights in not having a process and a register legally to recognise the acquired gender of transsexual persons.’ Tanya blogged about the proposals for gender recognition legislation in the new Programme for Government in some depth here. We hope to provide commentary when details of the proposed legislation emerge.

Update: Great video interview with Lydia Foy and Michael Farrell of FLAC here.

Hat-tip: One of our readers, Cat McIlroy, says

I spoke with Dr. Foy’s solicitor this afternoon to clarify the appeal statement in the Irish Examiner – neither he nor Lydia has heard anything regarding the Government dropping the appeal.

Thanks Cat!

The Budget and Community Development Projects

November 30, 2009 1 comment

On November 25, the Irish Times published this letter from a number of academics and non-governmental organisations highlighting an important cutback which may rear its head in the forthcoming budget:

[the] intention of the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs to wind down and close all 182 community development projects (CDPs) across the most disadvantaged communities in the State. The department intends to close CDPs deemed “unviable” immediately, and to ask those deemed “viable” to voluntarily close and be incorporated into a larger centralised structure, run by Local Development Social Inclusion Partnership companies (LDSIP)

Although the Department has argued that the amalgamation will be more economically efficient, Wednesday’s letter  insists that:

the agenda behind this proposal has little to do with cost savings but much to do with the dislike in certain quarters for an innovative programme which has given a direct and effective voice to local communities to decide on their own needs and priorities.

Of particular concern is the prospect, recently highlighted by Senator David Norris, that CDPs, if disbanded, will be asked to surrender their assets to the government. He said:

This is nothing other than a smash and grab raid.  So much for the Government’s commitment to promote active citizenship, participatory democracy and local consultation.  There have been no examinations, reviews or evaluations of these projects, some of which have been dismissed as non-viable.  Those which are viable are told to dissolve and surrender their assets.  In Ballybeg, County Waterford, the parish centre is legally an asset of the community’s development project.  It was given to the project by the Dominicans and later funds were raised by local people, with up to 20 women walking to Dublin, among other projects, to raise money to furnish and equip the centre and add an extension.  The project has recently been told to surrender the centre to the Government.  This is a smash and grab raid.  These matters must be consistently and continually raised in the House because the Government has disabled every voice for the people concerned.  It is disgraceful in this circumstance that this is the way the Government is behaving.

Tonight With Vincent Browne ran interviews with a number of community organisers on this issue on November 26. You can follow the struggle of those involved in CDP to retain their autonomy at the blog of the National Community Development Forum.

New IPRT Report Launched Today

November 30, 2009 Leave a comment

Dr. Ursula Kilkelly of University College Cork , who currently serves as chair of the Irish Penal Reform Trust has an informative article on the detention of children in today’s Irish Examiner. The article promotes a new report, which will be launched today by the Irish Penal Reform Trust. The report is titled Detention of Children in Ireland: International Standards and Best Practice. We have already posted on the report here.

The full text of this comprehensive and informative report is now available here. It is especially noteworthy for its foreword by the Ombudsman for Children, Emily Logan, reported here.

Guest Post: Kieran Walsh on Murphy and Interagency Co-operation

November 30, 2009 3 comments

We are delighted to welcome this guest post on the Murphy Commission Report from Kieran Walsh of UCC and Griffith College Cork. You can learn some more about Kieran on our Guest Contributors page

One of the major issues highlighted in the Murphy Commission’s report is the lack of inter-agency cooperation on child protection issues. Any allegation of abuse requires that a massive infrastructure springs to life to ensure that the complaint is handled appropriately. This is true at the investigative stage as well as the stage of ensuring the rights of the victim to appropriate aftercare. As a result, the various agencies involved – the Gardaí, the HSE and depending on the circumstances, the organisation of which the perpetrator was a member – need to follow clear and unambiguous guidelines outlining the various steps which should be taken. The Murphy Report highlights the lack of coordination within the Catholic Church as well as the lack of coordination, stemming in part from governmental inaction on child protection.

The church issued a set of instructions on the matter of child sex abuse in 1922 entitled Crimen Solicitationis. A new version was issued in 1962. The Report makes clear that these were, as official church documents, written in Latin but there was never an official English translation. Quite apart from the linguistic difficulties, evidence was given by Cardinal Connell that he was not aware of the 1922 document when he became Archbishop, that the 1962 version may never have reached the Archdiocese and that its existence was unknown until the late 1990’s, and that he had never met anyone who had ever even seen it. That the document which was supposed to set out the procedure for dealing with sex abuse complaints was unknown to the Irish church hierarchy is a surprise, that such ignorance helped to engender a culture of indifference is not. It was only in 2001 that the Vatican issued a more widely available set of instructions, Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela.

Read more…

Traveller Focus 2009

November 30, 2009 Leave a comment

November 30th marks the start of Traveller Focus 2009. The aim of Traveller Focus is to ‘celebrate the contribution Travellers make both within their own communities and to Irish society as a whole, through their culture, enterprise, sporting excellence, professional expertise across every area and unique history and tradition.’

16 Days: Day 6

November 30, 2009 Leave a comment

Today, in support of  the 16 days campaign, we want to draw readers’ attention to these resources on the relationship between forced migration and violence against women from the wonderful Forced Migration Online website.

Swiss Ban Minarets

November 29, 2009 Leave a comment

Some breaking news this evening. More than 57% of Swiss voters have voted to ban the further construction of minarets (see here, here, here, here and here). The proposal for the ban on further minaret construction (there are 4 in the entire country), came at the back of a campaign by the right wing Swiss People’s Party. HRiI will have further commentary on this development in the coming days.