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Written Answers - Prison Conditions

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 754 No. 3

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 94.  Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams  asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter  if he is satisfied that the current procedures regarding deaths in prison custody comply with the terms of the European Convention on Human Rights. [6531/12]

[362]Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I am satisfied that the current procedures regarding deaths in prison custody fully comply with the European Convention on Human Rights. The jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights requires that there should be some form of an effective official investigation when individuals have been killed as a result of the use of force and this includes the death of a prisoner even if that prisoner died from acts of violence of another prisoner. The Court also stated that the form of investigation may vary in different circumstances. The suite of investigations available to inquire into the killing of a prisoner can include:

(i) an inquest under Coroner’s Act 1962;

(ii) a Garda criminal investigation possibly leading to a criminal trial;

(iii) civil proceedings;

(iv) an investigation by the Inspector of Prisons pursuant to section 31 of the Prisons Act 2007;

(v) a commission of investigation under the Commission of Investigation Act 2004;

(vi) a tribunal of inquiry under the Tribunal of Inquiry (Evidence) Acts.

All prisoner deaths are automatically the subject of a Garda investigation and an inquest held in a Coroner’s Court. The cause of death is determined by a jury on the basis of the information presented to the Court. The bringing into play of the other measures can depend on the circumstances of the death. For example a commission of investigation was established to look into the circumstances surrounding the death of Gary Douch and the Inspector of Prisons is looking into the death of Shane Rogers.

We are currently reviewing the procedures for the investigation of prisoner deaths to determine if procedures can be further improved.


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