Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Questions (155, 156, 157)

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

156 Deputy Mary Mitchell O’Connor asked the Minister for Justice and Equality about his plans to ratify Protocol No. 12 to the European Convention on Human Rights on the general prohibition of discrimination; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4268/12]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Justice and Equality)

As a signatory to Protocol 12, Ireland keeps the question of ratifying the protocol under review. The major issue is the lack of clarity as to the precise extent of the obligations imposed on State parties by the very broad general prohibition on discrimination in Article 1 of the Protocol. My Department will continue to watch closely how the European Court of Human Rights interprets the scope of the article when it comes to rule on individual cases. In the meantime, I have no plans to ratify the Protocol at this time.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

157 Deputy Mary Mitchell O’Connor asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to ratify the optional protocol to the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4269/12]

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Ratification of the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment requires legislation. On 17 May 2011, the Government approved my proposals for preparation of the General Scheme of a Bill to enable ratification of the optional protocol. Work on preparation of the General Scheme is progressing. Arrangements will be made to ratify the instrument as soon as possible after the necessary legislation has been enacted.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

158 Deputy Mary Mitchell O’Connor asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4270/12]

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It is the Government's intention to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as quickly as possible, taking into account the need to ensure that all necessary legislative and administrative requirements under the Convention are being met. As the Deputy may be aware, Ireland does not become party to treaties until it is first in a position to comply with the obligations imposed by the treaty in question, including by amending domestic law as necessary.

The ongoing implementation of our National Disability Strategy in many respects comprehends many of the provisions of the Convention. In addition, the Inter-Departmental Committee on the UNCRPD monitors the remaining legislative and administrative actions required to enable ratification. At the Committee's request, the National Disability Authority, the lead statutory agency for the sector, has independently assessed the remaining requirements for ratification so as to ensure conclusively that all such issues will be addressed.

One of the key requirements in this regard is the enactment of mental capacity legislation. The Government's Legislation Programme as announced on 11 January 2012 indicates that the Mental Capacity Bill is expected to be published in the current Dáil session. The Bill will replace the Wards of Court system with a modern statutory framework governing decision-making on behalf of adults who lack capacity. The passage of this Bill will add substantially to the overall progress on implementation of the requirements towards ratification of the Convention.