We need to call immediately for a ‘full independent public inquiry’ into the Magdalene Laundry system and Mother and baby homes in this country.
As Felice D. Gaer stated last week (United Nations Committee against Torture)
“ the McAleese report lacked many elements of a prompt, independent and thorough investigation, as recommended by the Committee in its Concluding Observations. Specifically, the Committee has received information from several sources highlighting that the McAleese Report, despite its length and detail, did not conduct a fully independent investigation into allegations of arbitrary detention, forced labour or ill-treatment. While noting the State party’s response explained that individuals and groups were encouraged to report any evidence of criminal wrong doing directly, the Committee also received information that the State party was presented with extensive survivor testimony in the from of reports by Justice for Magdalenes and was aware of the existence of possible criminal wrong doings, including physical and psychological abuse.
With these factors in mind, the Committee would appreciate further information as to the measures the State party is planning to take to ensure that there is a full inquiry into all complaints of abuse, in accordance with the Committee’s original recommendation? Please clarify whether the State party intends to set up an inquiry body that is independent, with definite terms of reference, and statutory powers to compel evidence, and retain evidence obtained from relevant religious bodies? Would such an inquiry be empowered with the capacity to hold public hearings or obtain access to evidence for survivors or representative groups? Would such an inquiry have the authority to conduct a full-scale investigation into the abuse, and issue a public invitation to submit evidence? Given the nature and duration of institutionalized abuse, as well as the advanced age (and possible geographical remoteness) of some survivors, what steps does the State party intend to take to encourage survivors to lodge complaints?
On the issue of redress for survivors of the Magdalene Laundries, please clarify how the State party intends to ensure that the proposed fund to assist victims and survivors will in fact be primarily used to help such persons, as it has publicly stated it would try to do, rather than being used to cover legal or administrative costs? What measures are being put in place to help institutionalized survivors to engage with the redress processes.
As regards the law commission investigation established following the McAleese report, and headed by President of the Irish Law Reform Commission, Mr Justice John Quirke, the Committee understands that he was charged with investigating the reporting back to the government with recommendations within three months from 19 Feb 2013 as to the “establishment of an ex gratia Scheme (to operate on a non=adversarial basis)” for survivors of the Magdalene Laundries, and to make recommendations as to the criteria that should be applied in assessing the help that the government can provide in the areas of payments and other supports, including medical cards, psychological and counseling services and other welfare needs. The committee is concerned that his work is premised on the incomplete investigations carried out by MrAleese committee. In this regard, the Committee looks forward to learning of the results of his investigation. Please also clarify whether the Quirke investigation process will have independent statutory powers, be transparent and also subject to an appeals process, and independently monitored”
Felice D. Gaer 22nd May 2013 United Nations Human Rights office of the High Commissioner