Committee considered the initial report of Ireland (CCPR/C/68/Add.3)
at its 1235th, 1236th and 1239th meetings, held on 12, 13 and 14
July 1993, and adopted at the 1259th meeting, held on 28 July 1993
the following comments:
Committee expresses its satisfaction at the high quality of the
report submitted by the State party, which was detailed, informative
and generally well composed, and for the constructive dialogue engaged
through a high-ranking delegation. The Committee appreciates, in
particular, the fact that the report was published in Ireland by
the Department of Foreign Affairs and made available to the public.
The willingness of the State party to involve non-governmental organizations
in the debate surrounding the reporting process and the openness
displayed toward their critical observations were also noted with
appreciation. The Committee regards those efforts as a valuable
step forward in raising public awareness of the Covenant and stimulating
a constructive discussion on the implementation of the human rights
Committee expresses its appreciation for the Attorney General's
detailed introductory statement and the responses and clarifications
he gave in reply to members' questions, which contributed to a constructive
dialogue between the Committee and the State party.
B. Positive aspects
Committee welcomes the adherence of Ireland to the Optional Protocol,
the withdrawal of its reservation regarding the death penalty and
its subsequent adherence to the Second Optional Protocol aiming
at the abolition of the death penalty, as well as the announcement
that legislative preparations are under way in Ireland with a view
to acceding to other major human rights instruments.
Committee also notes with satisfaction the State party's efforts
to review existing legislation and policy in a number of key areas
covered by the Covenant. In particular, the Committee welcomes the
establishment of the post of Minister for Equality and Law Reform
to coordinate institutional, administrative and legal reform aimed
at combating discrimination; the review of mental health legislation
by the Department of Health, with a view to updating existing laws;
the review of prison policy presently being carried out under the
Programme for a Partnership Government; the examination of religious
education; and the creation, under the Ministry of Equality and
Law Reform, of a Task Force that also includes members of the "Travelling
Community" to advise on the special needs of that community.
respect to the issue of gender equality, the Committee welcomes
the recommendations of the Second Commission on the Status of Women
aimed at eliminating direct and indirect discrimination based on
sex, including, in particular, the proposed deletion of article
41.2.2 of the Constitution.
Committee also notes the efforts undertaken by the State party in
the area of human rights education in schools and universities.
C. Factors and difficulties impeding the application of the Covenant
Committee recognizes that the State party has encountered problems
stemming from terrorist acts related to the situation outside of
its borders but, at the same time, notes with satisfaction that
the rule of law has been firmly established in Ireland and that
the institutions of government and public order are not under serious
Committee notes that not all the provisions of the Covenant have
yet been fully incorporated into domestic law. It wishes, none the
less, to emphasize that the international legal obligations in the
Covenant have been undertaken by the State party. Accordingly, it
must ensure that domestic law is amended, interpreted and applied
in accordance with the obligations under the Covenant.
D. Principal subjects of concern
Committee expresses its concern over the status of the Covenant
in the domestic legal order and the lack of clarity concerning the
resolution of possible conflicts between the Covenant and domestic
legislation. The Committee wishes to underline that, in accordance
with article 2 of the Covenant, States parties are required to give
effect to all of its provisions and provide an effective remedy
for any person whose rights and freedoms, as recognized in the Covenant,
have been violated.
Committee expresses special concern over the continuation of the
state of emergency declared with the adoption of the Emergency Powers
Act in 1976. The Committee notes with concern that the Emergency
Powers Act, particularly section 2 thereof, provides excessive powers
to law enforcement officials. The Committee also expresses its concern
with respect to the Special Court established under the Offences
Against the State Act of 1939. It does not consider that the continued
existence of that Court is justified in the present circumstances.
The measures referred to above are of a character that normally
fall to be notified under article 4 of the Covenant. The Committee
notes, however, that the State party has failed to inform other
States parties of any state of emergency through the Secretary-General
of the United Nations, as required under article 4, paragraph 3,
of the Covenant.
Committee expresses its concern over the wide discretionary powers
generally accorded to law enforcement officials, particularly in
view of the increased number of complaints of abuse. It is also
not clear that police officials are adequately familiarized with
international human rights standards, including the rights and guarantees
contained in the Covenant.
Committee emphasizes that access to legal assistance is an essential
right under the Covenant and notes that, under the current restrictive
system, a proper legal defense could not be ensured for many persons.
Committee emphasizes that the segregation of juvenile offenders
is required under the Covenant as well as compliance with strict
standards for male and female offenders. The Committee expresses
its concern over the use of imprisonment in cases of wilful refusal
to obey a court order for payment of money.
respect to freedom of expression and the right of access to information,
the Committee notes with concern that the exercise of those rights
is unduly restricted under present laws concerning censorship, blasphemy
and information on abortion. The prohibition of interviews with
certain groups outside the borders by the broadcast media infringes
upon the freedom to receive and impart information under article
19, paragraph 2, of the Covenant. The Constitutional requirement
that the President and judges must take a religious oath excludes
some people from holding those offices.
welcoming the extension of the definition of the family, the Committee
notes that existing laws do not provide for divorce. In that connection,
the Committee notes that the continued non-recognition of divorce
serves only to exacerbate problems associated with the de facto
termination of marriage.
Committee notes with concern the existence of discriminatory distinctions
between citizens by birth and those who are naturalized and the
discriminatory treatment in some respects of non-nationals, including
refugees and asylum seekers. The Committee also notes that civil
servants are unduly restricted with respect to their right to participate
in public affairs and the right to strike.
E. Suggestions and recommendations
Committee recommends that the State party take effective steps to
incorporate all the provisions of the Covenant into law and ensure
that they are accorded a status superior to that of domestic legislation.
Notwithstanding that the Covenant cannot be directly invoked in
the courts, the need to comply with the international obligations
should be taken fully into account by the judiciary. The Committee
also recommends that a comprehensive review of existing legislation
and practices should be undertaken with a view to ensuring their
compatibility with the Covenant. In particular, guarantees against
discrimination should be clearly set out and conformity with the
Covenant should be ensured. Draft legislation, especially in the
area of criminal justice and public security, should also be reviewed
to ensure compatibility with the Covenant before its adoption.
Committee strongly recommends that the State party critically examine
the need for the existing state of emergency and see that the provisions
of article 4 of the Covenant are being strictly observed. The need
for the Emergency Powers Act and the Special Criminal Court should
also be examined and all practices in that regard should conform
to the obligations of the State party under the Covenant.
wide discretionary powers afforded to the police should be reviewed
in the light of the Covenant and of the State party's dialogue with
the Committee. The Committee emphasizes the importance of the issuance
of rules and guidelines and the ensuring of strict adherence by
law enforcement officials to rules and guidelines, particularly
with respect to powers of search, arrest and detention and the use
of firearms. The Committee suggests that adherence to those rules
and guidelines should be closely monitored.
Committee recommends that the State party take the necessary measures
to ensure the enjoyment of the freedom of expression as set out
in article 19 of the Covenant. In this regard, the Committee suggests
that steps should be taken to repeal strict laws on censorship and
ensure judicial review of decisions taken by the Censorship on Publications
Committee recommends that the State party undertake further measures
aimed at achieving equality of the sexes, particularly with regard
to women in law enforcement, the legal profession and the judiciary.
While welcoming measures recently taken to strengthen legislation
with regard to violence against women, the Committee considers that
the relevant laws and protections should also extend to cohabiting
Committee suggests that the State party undertake additional affirmative
action aimed at improving the situation of the "Travelling
Community" and, in particular, facilitating and enhancing the
participation of "travellers" in public affairs, including
the electoral process.
Committee emphasizes that training in human rights should be systematically
provided to law enforcement officials. Police should be well-acquainted
with relevant international norms and standard rules including,
inter alia, the provisions of the Covenant. Further measures
should also be taken to ensure that the provisions of the Covenant
are made widely known, particularly within the legal profession
and among members of the judiciary. In general, efforts in the area
of human rights education in schools and universities should be