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Irish Government response to A,B,C vs Ireland placed under ‘enhanced’ supervision

September 20th, 2011 · 4 Comments · Abortion

Last year the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the Irish Government must ensure that a woman’s right to abortion in certain circumstances as outlined in the constitution is upheld.  The court found “that the authorities failed to comply  with their positive obligation to secure to the third applicant [C] effective respect for her private life by reason of the absence of any  implementing legislative or regulatory regime providing an accessible  and effective procedure by which the third applicant could have  established whether she qualified for a lawful abortion in Ireland in  accordance with Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution.”

The Irish Government wrote an action plan regarding the judgement and submitted it to the Council of Europe in June of this year.  The action plan involved the establishment of an expert committee by the end of this year.  (This expert committee was mentioned in the programme for government and was acknowledged at the time as an inadequate response to the Court ruling.)

A Committee of ministers deputies review all rulings of the European Court of Human Rights and ensure that they are executed.  Ireland’s response to the ruling  is now being placed under ‘enhanced’ supervision.  A meeting yesterday of the committee also reminded the Irish government of

‘the importance of putting in place substantive measures to execute the judgment and invited the authorities to keep the Committee informed in relation to the steps taken under the timetable set out in the action plan.’

It doesn’t look like the Irish answer to the problem of putting it on the long finger of an expert committee is going to cut it as a substantive measure.

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties and the Irish Family Planning Association both wrote to the committee and outlined their concerns with the Programme for Government proposals and overall response of the state to the ruling.

The ICCL welcomed the decision of the committee to keep the response of the Irish government under ‘enhanced’ supervision.  Mark Kelly, Director of ICCL noted that

It is probable that a woman in position of the victim in this case  would be treated in exactly the same manner today, in clear violation of  her rights under the European Convention on Human Rights. The mere  creation of an “expert group” to look into the matter is not a  substantive measure to implement this legally-binding judgment by  Europe’s top court. Consequently, the ICCL welcomes this clear signal  from the Committee of Ministers that it will take a firm line on the  need for abortion law reform in Ireland.

Note: The Committee of Ministers Deputies was the process used to review Irelands response to the Norris ruling in 1988.  The committee meets several times a year and Ireland and other states found to have contravened human rights of plaintiffs have to explain themselves and what they are doing to change the law and stop the cases happening again.



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