Ireland’s experience of memorialisation in the context of serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law: A submission to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparations and guarantees of non-recurrence
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O'Rourke, Maeve. (2020). Ireland’s experience of memorialisation in the context of serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law: A submission to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparations and guarantees of non-recurrence, Justice for Magdalenes Research.
Background The systematic sexual, physical and emotional abuses which children experienced in Ireland’s Industrial and Reformatory Schools during the 20th century are discussed in the official report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse2 and the Amnesty International report, In Plain Sight, 3 among many other sources. In 2017, the UN Committee Against Torture (CAT) made several recommendations to Ireland regarding the need to ensure accountability and comprehensive redress for these abuses.4 The CAT’s concluding observations were prompted in particular by a report for the session by the voluntary group, Reclaiming Self.5 The system of arbitrary detention, forced labour and multiple forms of torture or ill-treatment of girls and women in Ireland’s Magdalene Laundries during the 20th century is described in oral histories6 and in written submissions to human rights bodies by the voluntary group Justice for Magdalenes / JFM Research, 7 among other sources. The CAT addressed the Magdalene Laundries abuse in its Concluding Observations in 2011 and 2017.8 The CAT’s recommendations to Ireland regarding the Magdalene Laundries (focusing on the obligations to investigate, prosecute perpetrators, facilitate access to information, and ensure comprehensive redress) have been echoed by the UN Human Rights Committee, 9 the UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women10 and the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.11 The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission has also made criticisms and recommendations to the Irish Government similar to the UN bodies. 12 The widespread incarceration of unmarried mothers in Mother and Baby Homes and County Homes, and the forced separation of children from their mothers in these institutions and through a broader network of adoption agencies, hospitals and nursing homes, is examined in the report of the voluntary evidence-gathering project, ‘Clann: Ireland’s Unmarried Mothers and their Children: Gathering the Data’, 13 among other sources. Numerous international human rights bodies have issued recommendations to Ireland in respect of these human rights violations in recent years.14
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