On 8 March 2019, Ireland became the 34th out of 47 members of the Council of Europe to have ratified the Istanbul Convention. The Government has committed in the National Strategy for Women and Girls to considering gender impact in the development of new strategies and the review of existing strategies. It will also require all public bodies to assess and identify the human rights of women and girls and the gender equality issues that are relevant to their functions and address these in their strategic planning, policies and practices, and annual reports, in line with the public sector duty under section 42 of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014.
The Domestic Violence Act 2018 was a key action in progressing the ratification of the Istanbul Convention as it delivered on a number of Convention requirements including extending access to barring orders, giving judges powers to refer perpetrators to programmes and providing for an offence of forced marriage.
The Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) of my Department has agreed a policy and practice document on safeguarding RIA residents against domestic, sexual and gender-based violence and harassment. This policy was agreed in April 2014 between RIA, Cosc and NGOs such as AkiDwA, Ruhama and the UNHCR and appropriate training was provided to all accommodation centre staff. The policy can be found on the RIA webpage:
The Istanbul Convention refers to parties taking the necessary legislative or other measures to develop gender-sensitive reception procedures and support services for asylum-seekers as well as gender guidelines and gender-sensitive asylum procedures, including refugee status determination and application for international protection. New national standards for RIA accommodation centres have been developed by my Department in conjunction with NGOs, residents of accommodation centres and other Government Departments. These standards, which are due to be published shortly, will support the process of ensuring that reception procedures and support services for asylum seekers are appropriately gender sensitive.