The Dublin Inquirer has published an opinion piece by ICCL executive director Liam Herrick on the need for independent inspection of Garda holding cells.

While some safeguards are in place, such as the existence of various oversight bodies like the Garda Inspectorate, no bodies in Ireland currently have the power to enter Garda stations to check for potential mistreatment of detainees. In comparison, inspectors in the United Kingdom can enter a station at any time, with a corresponding positive effect on police behaviour towards those detained. Herrick describes the lack of inspection of Garda stations as ‘the missing link in our system of checks and balances’.

The Minister for Justice has committed to Ireland finally ratifying OPCAT, which would provide for unannounced inspections in all places of detention. However Herrick warns that the ratification must be dealt with correctly. He worries that plans to empower the Inspector of Prisons to inspect Garda stations would leave an already under-resourced body unable to properly conduct inspections, undermining the effect of OPCAT ratification. It is important that the government grant inspection powers to a body which can fully utilise those abilities, to ensure people in detention are properly protected.

Read the full article here.