Belfast Telegraph

Young offenders rights 'ignored'

The human rights of children and young adults at St Patrick's Institution are being ignored or violated, a scathing report has found.

Some inmates at the young offenders institute had their clothes removed by force, while others had family visits prohibited as a form of punishment, it emerged.

The Inspector of Prisons, Judge Michael Reilly, also revealed investigations in the majority of prisoner complaints, including alleged assaults or serious inappropriate actions by prison officers, were flawed and incomplete.

"To say that there is a culture in St Patrick's where the human rights of some prisoners are either ignored or violated is a serious statement," said Judge Reilly.

He added that the removal of clothing by force "can only be described as degrading and a form of punishment, intimidation and abuse".

Justice Minister Alan Shatter said the report into the facility, which holds 16- to 21-year-olds, was shocking.

"Neither I nor the Government will tolerate this type of abuse," he said. "I have instructed the Director General of the Irish Prison Service to ensure that everything possible is done to address these issues within the timeframes set by the Inspector if not before then."

There are 200 young offenders in St Patrick's, including 25 17-year-olds. The detention of children in St Patrick's Institution will end by mid 2014, with all youngsters moved to a new detention facility at Oberstown near Lusk in Co Dublin. Since May, 16-year-olds have been sentenced to the centre.

The Inspector reported that a combination of, inter alia, weak management, the culture in the prison, the inattention to human rights norms, prisoners on protection and prevalence of drugs means that St Patrick's has not lived up to the mission statement of the Irish Prison Service.

He highlighted concerns over prison healthcare, education, the use of special cells for safety and close supervision, inadequate record keeping, the use of control and restraint techniques contrary to established guidelines and international best practice.


From Belfast Telegraph