As the Deputy will be aware, Ireland ratified the UN convention against torture in 2002. This and previous Governments are fully committed to the convention and have fully participated in all that its ratification entails. The optional protocol to the convention against torture, OPCAT, dates from 2007. It is in addition to the convention and designed to be preventive in nature. I am fully committed to its ratification. My Department is preparing the inspection of places of detention Bill, with a view to enabling ratification of OPCAT as soon as possible. In October 2017 officials in my Department attended and participated in a round table discussion at the launch of the research of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, IHREC, into the implementation of OPCAT in Ireland. The research which comprised a comprehensive report prepared by the Human Rights Implementation Centre and accompanying submission by the IHREC outlined the commission’s position on what should be the primary considerations for the State in making progress towards ratification and implementation of OPCAT and set out recommendations for the designation and co-ordination of a national preventive mechanism under OPCAT.
The IHREC’s research was circulated by my Department to relevant stakeholders for their comments and observations. The stakeholders comprised organisations with policy or operational responsibility for inspection arrangements across the ambit of the national preventive mechanism regime provided for in OPCAT, which goes beyond the justice sector. The last of these submissions was received in April 2018 and my officials are in the process of giving them full consideration. The process will conclude this month and a meeting has been arranged with the newly appointed Inspector of Prisons to discuss the future role of the inspector's office as part of the implementation process. This engagement will inform the development of the draft inspection of places of detention Bill to enable ratification of OPCAT. It is my intention that the draft scheme will be finalised in the autumn in order that I can bring it to the Government before the end of the year.