1Prisons can prove to be dangerous places, not because of the type of people who are detained inthem, but because of the fact that the authorities are not taking reasonable care to protect thepeople who are locked in the prisons. It is expected from the prison authorities, that they takecare of the prisoners, their health, and also protect them from the attacks by the fellow prisoners.In some cases, the authorities may have to adopt unduly repressive and inhumane measures withthe prisoners, but they have to balance this thing with the protective function that they need toperform. The prisoners have the right to get the required degree of freedom and to maintain theirhuman dignity. Thus, the assignment aims to discuss the approaches that are adopted by the Irish courts to takecare of their prisoners and determine that to what extent they are able to provide a good standardof care to them. It is the responsibility of the state to discharge their duty of care that they owe tothe prisoners in the Irish prisons. For this, the law of tort will be discussed in relation to theremedies that are available to the prisoners and various case laws will also be discussed. Recently, Mr. Justice Michael Reilly, of the Irish Prisons Inspectorate, published a report whichhighlighted the various issues that the prisoners in the Irish courts are facing. It was mentioned inthe report that the interior of the walls of prisons led to inhuman and degrading treatment to thepeople1. Other reports have also been published that highlighted the issue of overcrowding inthree prisons of Ireland, namely Mountjoy Prison, Portlaoise Prison and St. Patrick's Institution2.Just like the protection of the rights of minority groups like the disabled children, the Irishjudiciary has been reluctant in protecting the rights of the prisoners of Ireland. When talkingabout the individual instances, the protection of the prisoners’ rights has been quite good inIreland because the courts intervene in the cases. But, when the judgments related to rights ofprisoners that have an effect on the entire penal service are required to be taken, then thereluctance comes3. This reluctance can continue to curtail the freedom of the prisoners to anunacceptable level and it can extend till the level of a ‘civil death’. But, the law of tort can bepracticed and applied in this scenario along with the Human Rights and it can help the prisonersin getting justice if they feel that they have been attacked by the fellow prisoners but no measure1 Hopkins C, 'Tort And The Treatment Of Prisoners' (1992) 51 The Cambridge Law Journal2 'REPORT ON PRISONS AND PRISONERS IN IRELAND.' (1903) 162 The Lancet3 DORFMAN A, 'Can Tort Law Be Moral?' (2010) 23 Ratio Juris
2has been taken to protect their security or if they feel that they are being treated in an inhumaneway. Basically, there are a range of remedies that have been offered by the law of tort for all thewrongs that are done to the prisoners. This law has been made and applied for the prisoners inparticular because they are treated as stigmatized group and when the verdicts have beannounced against the prison authorities, the courts tend not to go an extra mile when they haveto translate their entitlements4. With the tort law, the prison authorities and the courts have toestablish their duty f care and they have to show that, in addition to proximity of relationship andforeseeability of damage, that it is just and reasonable to impose such a duty5.In Europe, there is a convention for the Prevention Of Torture, Inhuman And DegradingTreatment Or Punishment. There is a monitoring mechanism for this convention that applies tothe national prison services all over the Europe. There are many impartial and independentexperts that have been employed with this convention and they come from differentbackgrounds6. Since its formation, there have been four visits in Ireland. The role of the visitingcommittee is to visit the prison, observe the conditions of the prisoners and interview them alongwith the staff deployed there. This visiting committee also consults thee conditions of theprisoners with the law and the policy makers and they meet with the civil society inconsideration of the physical environment, the healthcare of prisoners, the regime etc. and theyaim to produce a conclusive report7. In addition to the inspections and formation of the report,the national methods of the individual redress are inspected by the committee. This is basically areform on the penal service of the Europe at the community wide level but, this reform was notapplied and successful in the Irish Jurisdiction. This shows that in Ireland, the authorities are notinviting the committees for inspecting their prisons. They may not be providing the adequatelevel of care and safety to the prisoners due to which they feel that their inspection should not bedocumented. So, one duty of care that the authorities owe to the prisoners is that they must allow4 Fottrell, 'Ursula Kilkelly, The Child And The European Convention On Human Rights' (2000) 8 The International Journal of Children's Rights5 Muireadhaigh R, Stockman G and Hamilton J, 'The Irish Of Achill, Co. Mayo. Studies In Irish Language And Literature, Vol. 2, Institute Of Irish Studies' (1975) 8 Seanchas Ardmhacha: Journal of the Armagh Diocesan Historical Society6 'Preventing Torture: A Study Of The European Convention For The Prevention Of Torture And Inhuman Or Degrading Treatment Or Punishment' (1999) 37 Choice Reviews Online7 Shany Y, 'The Prohibition Against Torture And Cruel, Inhuman And Degrading Treatment And Punishment: Can The Absolute Be Relativized Under Existing International Law?' SSRN Electronic Journal
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