The UN Committee on the Convention against Torture in Geneva (the “Committee”) has dismissed arguments made by Ireland that complaints made by a victim of the Magdalene Laundries to the Committee were inadmissible.
Elizabeth Coppin was incarcerated and subjected to forced labour in three Magdalene Laundries from 1964 to 1968, from the ages of 14-18. Following repeated attempts to bring her case to court in Ireland, she communicated a complaint to the Committee in 2018 (which was covered by the New York Times here).
Her complaint alleges a number of failures by the Irish state, including that it has:
Ireland objected to the admissibility of Mrs Coppin’s complaint under article 22 of the Convention against Torture, putting forward a raft of arguments pursuant to which, it said, the Committee did not have jurisdiction. Those arguments included arguments that the complaint was inadmissible:
As reported today in the Irish Times, the Committee has, following submissions from the parties, rejected Ireland’s submissions in their entirety. Its decision affirms the rights of victims of historic abuse to bring cases before international treaty bodies where insufficient action has taken place following the ratification of the relevant conventions. Of particular note is the Committee’s conclusion that a domestic waiver to secure payment cannot preclude victims of torture and ill-treatment from accessing international mechanisms of justice.
Jennifer MacLeod is instructed by Abbey Law (with assistance from Hogan Lovells) as junior counsel for Mrs Coppin.