From the IPRT: Detention of Children in Ireland: International Standards and Best Practice.
On Monday, the Irish Penal Reform Trust will launch a new report; Detention of Children in Ireland: International Standards and Best Practice. Details of the launch are here. In the year in which the UNCRC turns 20, the IPRT reminds us that:
Article 37 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by Ireland in 1992, requires that the arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child should be a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time. Detention as a last resort requires parsimony in the use of custody for children and that it be limited to exceptional cases, including for example where a child has been found guilty of a violent offence.As long as detention exists as an option, places of detention for children should aim to maximise their chances of rehabilitation and integration into society by providing a humane, safe and secure environment whereby the offending behaviour of children can be addressed, and where children will be assisted to make better choices about their lives during custody and on their return to society.
The report will:
- discuss the context of the detention of children in Ireland, outlining the international standards applicable to detention of children, and provide a comparative analysis of a number of youth detention systems in Europe.
- examine specific standards relating to a number of practice areas (such as physical environment and accommodation; personal and social development; health care provision; staffing requirements, etc.) and highlight examples of good practice both in Ireland and in other European countries in those areas, which may serve as guidance for the development of policy and practice in the new National Children Detention Facility at Oberstown.
- make 63 detailed recommendations across a range of practice areas.
The IPRT said yesterday that it is calling on the government to:
- Bring an immediate end to the detention of children in St Patrick’s Institution
- Extend the remit of the Ombudsman for Children to receive individual complaints from children held in St. Patrick’s Institution. The Ombudsman for Children Act, 2002 forecloses this option. In the foreword to the report, the Ombudsman, Emily Logan, has expressly welcomed this recommendation.
- Improve child protection procedures and practices in all places where children are detained
We look forward to blogging about the contents of this important report in more detail in due course. We also recommend the IPRT’s recent briefings on mental health in Irish prisons and overcrowding in Irish prisons.