A United Nations Human Rights Committee has criticised Ireland for the continued operation of the Victorian era Lunacy Regulations of 1871, and states Ireland should prioritise the commencement of the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015. The Committee recommends that Ireland adequately resource the implementation of the Act to protect vulnerable adults and older people from involuntary confinement, and inhuman and degrading treatment including chemical restraint.
The UN Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) in its Concluding Observations following Ireland’s review of the State’s implementation of the UN Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment also raised concerns “…that the authorities currently entrusted with monitoring residential care facilities are not sufficiently independent nor adequately resourced to perform this function”.
Responding to the Concluding Observations today Mervyn Taylor manager of Sage Support and Advocacy Service said “We welcome the observations and recommendations of the UN Committee which recognises some of the human rights violations for vulnerable adults and older people which Sage included in its submission to the UN Committee, including the lack of safeguards to protect people from deprivation of liberty and from abuse. The State was commended by the UN Committee for the establishment of the Citizens Assembly, which will shortly make its own recommendations to the Oireachtas for better protections for older people, including legislation on safeguarding of vulnerable adults and commencement of the ADM (Capacity) Act 2015.”
“The UN Committee today recommended that people in residential care and congregated care facilities should be able to make complaints to an independent monitoring body, and that all allegations of ill treatment in residential facilities should be effectively investigated, perpetrators held to account and victims provided with redress” said Mervyn Taylor. “Sage particularly welcomes the Committee’s engagement on the issue of protecting vulnerable adults from abuse, we have identified that the current structures in place are inadequate to respond to individual’s complaints and protect people from abuse. To address this we have called for legislation on deprivation of liberty and safeguarding to be implemented, for the establishment of a National Safeguarding Service, independent of all service providers, together with the statutory recognition of the practice of independent advocacy.”
Among the UN Committees recommendations is for Ireland to ratify the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention Against Torture (OPCAT) which Ireland signed in 2007. Under OPCAT the State should establish a national preventative mechanism. The UN Committee strongly states that this body should have access to all places of deprivation of liberty including residential care settings for people with disabilities, nursing homes for older people and other care settings. The Committee states the State should allow civil society organisations to make unannounced visits to places where a person may be deprived of their liberty.
“Sage looks forward to continued collaboration with State authorities to implement the important recommendations of the UN Committee Against Torture and ensure the State is fulfilling its obligations to vulnerable adults” said Mr. Taylor.