Mother and baby homes report provides evidence of ‘wide-ranging and systemic rights abuses’

Mother and baby homes report provides evidence of 'wide-ranging and systemic rights abuses'

Doireann Ansbro

The final report of the Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Inquiry contains evidence of serious human rights abuses and its recommendations for reparations are not sufficient to right them, new analysis has said.

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) yesterday published its analysis of the report, which it said uncovers wide-ranging and systemic human rights violations including torture, enforced disappearances and modern slavery.

Doireann Ansbro, head of legal and policy at ICCL, said: “It’s perplexing that the government chose to ignore advice from the State human rights body, IHREC, that this report take a human rights approach.

“It means these rights violations were not identified for what they are. Worse still, it means the recommendations for reparations are not sufficient for government to meet its human rights obligations.”

The civil liberties group said it had identified in the report evidence of arbitrary detention, violations of the right to life, abuse amounting to torture, modern slavery, enforced disappearances, violations of the right to a private and family life, and discrimination on gender, race and socio-economic grounds.

It also believes that survivors’ rights to an effective remedy and to information about their identity are being violated on an ongoing basis.

It recommends that the State “follow the four pillars of the UN transitional justice framework on the right to truth, justice, reparations and guarantees of non-recurrence in order to remedy these violations”:

  • To vindicate the right to truth, the state must investigate the entire system of incarceration of unmarried mothers and their children and establish exhumation and inquest systems where necessary. It must also immediately provide information about identity to survivors, as well as investigate the circumstances around destruction of testimony provided to the Commission.
  • To vindicate the right to justice, An Garda Síochána should initiate criminal investigations into potential criminal activities. Likewise, GSOC must investigate An Garda Síochána’s role in the violations.
  • To vindicate the right to reparation, the state should provide a generous and uncomplicated compensation scheme which would include healthcare, housing and other appropriate supports.
  • And to ensure that nothing like this can ever happen again, the State must memorialise those who died or suffered, keep public records and engage in public education around what happened. Importantly, it must also provide human-rights focused inspections of all places of detention and residential care.
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