Thursday, September 1, 2011

Ireland's Universal Periodic Review


I have blogged before (4 August, 15 July, 6 June, etc) about the UN Universal Periodic Review, under which the Irish Government will be ‘examined’ to see how far Ireland has ‘progressed’ in the matter of human rights – as determined by the United Nations Universal Periodic Review (UPR) system.

You will remember how a number of groups, such as the Irish Family Planning Association, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, the National Women’s Council, the Children’s Rights Alliance, etc., got together and compiled their report entitled Your Rights. Right Now (YRRN) This anti life shadow report was singled out for special treatment by one of the Irish Government Ministers despite the fact that a number of other shadow reports which supported life were submitted to both the UN and the Irish Government last March.      

The Government then invited submissions from the public and other interested bodies, and held a number of public consultations throughout the country – seven in all.  The views and suggestions put forward both in the submissions and at the public meetings were supposed to ‘inform’ the Government in the compilation of its own report for its UPR.   The Government report, however, took little – if indeed any – notice of the views of the public whom it had drawn into the discussions.   There was one exception, however - the agenda of the ‘liberal’ groups was of course put forward.   A prime example of this is the section in the Government report that deals with abortion:

‘In December 2010, the European Court of Human Rights judgment in the A, B and C v Ireland case found that there was an absence of accessible and effective procedures to enable Ms C establish whether she had a right to a termination under Irish law and this represented a violation of her human rights.  Ireland is committed to ensuring that the judgment in this case is implemented expeditiously.  In response to the Court judgment, the Government will establish an expert group, drawing on appropriate medical and legal expertise, with a view to making recommendations to Government on how this matter should be properly addressed.’

That’s all!   Having heard and read the submissions of the pro-life and pro-family groups and individuals on this and other relevant matters it is abundantly clear the Government just ignored them.

Another area in which the pro-life voice has been totally ignored is that of the YRRN report itself. 
When it was discovered that quite a number of groups and organisations (for instance, Crosscare, Tr√≥caire, National Council for the Blind, etc) had been innocently or unknowingly implicated in the pro-abortion/anti-family stance of the YRRN report, these groups tried to withdraw their support of it, sadly however it had already been lodged with the UPR review body by that time.   Representations were made directly to the Government, and particularly during the course of the public consultation meetings, calling on the Government to distance itself immediately from the YRRN report based, as it is, on a false premise – the claim that the groups mentioned above (Crosscare, etc.) supported a pro-abortion and anti-family stance.   

What happened?    Not alone does the Government, in its official report to the UPR Committee, ignore its Constitutional obligations to recognise, maintain, support and promote the fundamental unit of society which is the family based on marriage, together with the right to life of the unborn child, but the ‘Summary’ prepared by the Office of the High Commissioner (OHC) for Human Rights (under the heading Right to social security and to an adequate standard of living) states that:

While recalling the 1992 Irish Supreme Court ruling clarifying the Constitutional position and a recent ECHR judgment in A, B and C-v-Ireland, JS1 recommended that Ireland immediately repeal the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act and immediately enact legislation to clarify the circumstances under which an abortion may be lawful.’  

 ‘JS1’ is the joint submission from the Your Right. Right Now coalition campaign.

To soften this outrageous statement, the OHC adds a reference to the Pro-Life Campaign’s submission but once again ignored the many other pro-life statements and reports it had received:

Referring to the same rulings and to the Supreme Court decision in R-v-R (2009) on human embryos, Pro-Life Campaign (PLC) urged the UN Human Rights Council to recognise Ireland’s outstanding record of care in protecting the lives of women during pregnancy while at the same time affording proper legal protection to the lives of unborn babies.’
The whole UPR process is a shambles