Breaking the Silence: Shocking Treatment of Asylum Seekers in Ireland Demand Urgent Action from NGOs
Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are often at the forefront of advocating for asylum seekers, refugees, and the Traveller community in Ireland. Most have made significant strides in raising awareness about the mistreatment and injustices that occur in different parts of Ireland. However, there is an issue that has been largely ignored by many asylum advocate NGOs in Ireland, and that is the issue of torture in Direct Provision. Torture is a heinous crime that violates human rights and has devastating consequences for victims.
United Nations Definition of Torture
The United Nations defines torture as “any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person”. Torture is a violation of human rights and a crime under international law. It is a cruel and inhumane practice that has no place in Ireland or any society.
NGOs Must Break Their Silence on the Torturous Practices Authority Officials are Using Against Asylum Seekers in Direct Provision
Despite the unequivocal condemnation of torture by UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, authority figures in Ireland continue to use these practices to intimidate certain asylum seekers. Torture is being used by Irish officials to extract information, punish individuals for seeking asylum, and to intimidate populations. It is used as a tool of repression to silence dissent and maintain power.
Breaking the Silence: Shocking Treatment of Asylum Seekers in Ireland Demand Urgent Action from NGOs: Consequences of Torture
The consequences of torture are severe and long-lasting. Victims of torture often suffer from physical and mental health problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), chronic pain, and serious ill-treatment. Many are left with permanent disabilities, and some even die as a result of their injuries.
NGOs Role in Ending Torture
NGOs in Ireland play a critical role in ending torture. For instance, NGOs have the expertise, resources, and networks to document cases of torture, provide legal assistance to victims, and advocate for changes in policy and practice. Further, NGOs can work with international bodies, such as the Committee Against Torture, to raise awareness about the use of torture and to pressure the Irish governments to take action to end this abhorrent practice.
NGOs Are Being Persuaded by Powerful Authority Figures Not to Act
Irish NGOs have been hesitant to break their silence on the torture that is occurring in Direct Provision because they are being persuaded by powerful authority figures not to act. Torture often occurs in secret, and sometimes, it is difficult to obtain evidence of its use. What is more, officials who are deploying torturous practices in Direct Provision are often repressive and unresponsive to criticism, making it difficult for asylum seekers to speak out and access their rights. Indeed, there is a history in Ireland of intimidating asylum seekers into silence over their poor treatment.
While NGOs may be concerned about the safety of their staff and the impact that speaking out against torture may have on their relationships with governments and other stakeholders in Ireland, one of the primary roles of NGOs is to foster a culture of accountability. In other words, NGOs in Ireland must hold government officials responsible for their actions.
Why Silence on Torture is Not an Option
NGOs must recognize that their silence on torture is not an option. NGOs have a moral obligation to speak out against all forms of human rights abuses, including torture. By remaining silent on torture in Ireland, NGOs are allowing this heinous practice to continue unchecked. Moreover, by failing to speak out against torture, NGOs are failing to fulfill their mandate to promote and protect human rights.
When NGOs speak out against torture, they expose torture and the International Community is more likely to take action to prevent future abuses. NGOs can demand Direct Provision centres follow international human rights standards, such as the Istanbul Protocol, which provides guidelines for the investigation and documentation of torture.