Press Release, 23 May 2011 — For Immediate Release
UN calls on Ireland to investigate Magdalene Laundries abuse
Justice for Magdalenes (JFM), the survivor advocacy group, is calling on the Irish government to act immediately on foot of calls from members of the United Nations Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) for an independent investigation into human rights violations in the Magdalene Laundries and redress for the women who suffered.
The United Nations Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) today examined Ireland for the first time in Geneva, Switzerland. Today’s examination follows the “closed” NGO Briefing Session on Friday last, when JFM was invited to make a statement before the Committee (copy attached, below). Tomorrow afternoon, the Committee will hear responses from the Irish government delegation to the questions asked today.
At today’s examination, Committee members asked numerous questions of the Irish government about its intentions to investigate the Magdalene laundries abuse promptly, impartially and comprehensively, in accordance with its obligations under articles 12 and 13 of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. See below for summaries and quotes from four members of the Committee.
The Committee also requested information from the state as to how it will ensure redress and compensation for the women who suffered in the Magdalene Laundries, in line with its obligation under Article 14 of the Convention.
JFM PRO Claire McGettrick said: “JFM believes the State can fulfil its responsibilities by obtaining reparations from the Catholic Church for its part in the women’s abuse. The majority of survivors are aging and elderly, and adversarial models of inquiry and redress would have the opposite effect of adding to their pain and sense of injustice.”
Maeve O’Rourke, who presented JFM’s submission to the Committee, said: “The UN Committee against Torture, along with the Irish Human Rights Commission, has taken an extremely serious view of the abuse of women and girls in the Magdalene Laundries and the state’s responsibility for it. Today’s comments by the Committee members unequivocally recognise the rights of the women who are still alive to an investigation, an apology, redress and treatment with dignity. I am hopeful that the Irish government will now take this opportunity to respect the human rights of these women, which for so long have been disregarded.”
Professor James Smith (Boston College), member of JFM’s advisory committee, said: “JFM today calls on the Irish state, to offer a formal state apology to all survivors of the Magdalene laundries and that the government immediately establish a statutory inquiry into these abuses. To do otherwise is to cause additional pain and suffering to the women and thereby bring further shame on our nation. The women and their children deserve justice now.”
NOTE to Editors: (i) Summary of UNCAT members comments and quotations
(ii) A copy of JFM’s Statement from Friday’s NGO Briefing Session
(iii) Maeve O’Rourke is available for interviews from Geneva
Categories: MAGDALEN WOMEN - FORGOTTEN VOICES