Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1989

The Republic of Ireland is a parliamentary democracy with a
long tradition of orderly transfer of power. Individual
liberties and civil rights are guaranteed by the 1937 Irish
Constitution and subsequent Supreme Court interpretations.
A civilian police force maintains public safety. Successive
Irish governments have had to deal with the spillover into the
Republic of violence from Northern Ireland. That violence led
Irish authorities to adopt special legislation in 1984 granting
the police increased powers to detain and interrogate those
suspected of acts of terrorism. During 1989 Irish officials
continued to apply such special legislation with restraint.
The Irish economy, based largely on free enterprise, has grown
rapidly as a result of long-term policies of industrialization
and diversification. It performed well in 1989 despite
continued fiscal austerity and unemployment of about 17
percent. Exports were strong, and the budget deficit was
The Government and people of Ireland attach great importance
to the observance and maintenance of human rights, both in
theory and practice at home and abroad, and there were few, if
any, reports of human rights abuses during 1989.
Discrimination (and violence) against women remains a human
rights problem,
Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including
Freedom from.:
a. Political Killing
In the past, politically motivated killings have occurred in
Ireland as a spillover from the violence in Northern Ireland.
In these cases, such groups as the Provisional Irish
Republican Army (PIRA) or the Irish National Liberation Army
(INLA) usually claim responsibility. In 1989 two such
killings took place in the Republic's border area with
Northern Ireland. The Government uses the full force of law
to pursue and prosecute such cases wherever possible.
      b. Disappearance
People are not abducted, secretly arrested, or held in
clandestine detention by the Irish authorities.
      c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Freedom from torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading
punishment is respected in practice by the Government.
      d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile
The Constitution provides that a person shall be deprived of
personal liberty only in accordance with the law. The same
section of the Constitution provides for a judicial
determination of the legality of a person's detention and
requires in such cases that the arresting authorities make
written explanation to the court about the person concerned.
Neither in law nor in practice is anyone subject to arrest for
the expression of political or religious views.
Short-term detention without charge exists but is restricted.
It is permitted for a maximum of 48 hours in cases covered by
the Offenses Against the State Act of 1939, legislation
designed to "prevent actions and conduct calculated to
undermine public order and the authority of the State." This
legislation was reactivated in 1972 and broadened to include
other "scheduled offenses" against peace and order. The
police may now arrest and detain for guestioning anyone
suspected of any offense involving firearms, explosives,
membership in an unlawful organization, or malicious damage to
property. After the 48-hour period, the person must be
brought before a magistrate, presented with written charges,
and given legal representation.
The Omnibus Criminal Justice Act of 1984 gives some increased
powers to the police in the area of detention for
interrogation. Critics of the 1984 act have argued that those
increased powers, which did not come into effect until 1987,
following implementation of the companion complaints
procedure, are out of proportion to the threat addressed and
are unhealthy for democracy. Defenders of this legislation
counter that two issues of human rights are at stake: the
right of citizens to be protected against crime, along with
the safeguarding of individual rights from abuse by police.
Neither incommunicado detention nor exile is used. With
regard to forced or compulsory labor, see Section 6.c.
      e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
Fair public trial is guaranteed by the Constitution and
respected in practice. A defendant has the right to legal
counsel. The courts are independent, and jury trial is the
norm. The Constitution provides, however, for the creation of
"special courts" to deal with cases where the "ordinary courts
are inadequate to secure the effective administration of
justice, and the preservation of public peace and order." The
Offenses Against the State Act of 1939 formally set up such
courts and provided that they may try persons for offenses
against national security, particularly cases of political
violence perpetrated by terrorist groups likely to intimidate
regular juries. Rather than having juries, these courts have
panels of judges, each consisting of an uneven number of
judges, but in any event not less than three. Their verdicts
are by majority vote. Rules of evidence generally are similar
to those of regular courts, except that the sworn statement of
a police chief superintendent that the accused is a member of
an illegal organization is considered prima facie evidence of
such membership. Court sessions are usually public but may
exclude certain persons, other than genuine press
representatives. There is provision for free legal aid and
appeal against conviction or sentence.
      f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
Though not specifically provided for in the Constitution, the
basic human right of noninterference with personal privacy,
family, and home is affirmed by the Supreme Court and
generally observed. The Constitution, however, provides that
the State shall enact no law "providing for the grant of the
dissolution of marriage." A proposal to amend the
Constitution to permit divorce in limited circumstances was
overwhelmingly defeated in a 1986 nationwide referendum. In
the same year, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that
the absence of divorce is not a breach of the European
Convention on Human Rights.
Section 2 Respect for Civil Rights, Including:
      a. Freedom of Speech and Press
These freedoms are guaranteed by the Constitution and
generally respected in practice. The State endeavors to
insure that organs of public opinion, while preserving liberty
of expression (including criticism of government policy), are
not used to undermine public order, morality, or the authority
of the State. Furthermore, "publication or utterance of
blasphemous, seditious, or indecent matter" is an offense
punishable by law.
Ordinarily, official censorship is directed largely toward
pornographic material. Nonetheless, the state-owned radio and
television network, on the basis of the constitutional
provisions dealing with public order and the authority of the
State, denies air time to members of a list of organizations
including (Provisional) Sinn Fein, the legal political wing of
the illegal Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) . In 1982
this prohibition was challenged before the Irish Supreme Court
and upheld on constitutional grounds. All political parties
not on the list are given access to both publicly owned radio
and television facilities and major independent daily
newspapers. Criticism of the Government in such media is
allowed and it flourishes. Academic freedom is respected.
      b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
These freedoms are guaranteed by the Constitution and
respected in practice. Certain terrorist organizations, such
as PIRA and INLA, however, are illegal, and membership in them
is an offense against national security. Political parties or
groups associated with such organizations, such as
(Provisional) Sinn Fein, are not proscribed.
For a discussion of freedom of association as it applies to
labor unions, see Section 6. a.
      c. Freedom of Religion
Ireland is 94 percent Roman Catholic. The Constitution
provides for freedom of religion, and there are no
restrictions upon freedom of worship. Discrimination in
employment, education, and other fields based on religious
grounds has not been alleged. Some Irish laws, such as the
prohibition against divorce, reflect the point of view of the
majority of the population. The area of family law--including
the rights of illegitimate children—is the subject of current
debate in which minority religious communities have felt fully
at liberty to take a vocal and active role.
      d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation
There is complete freedom of movement within the country, as
well as freedom to engage in foreign travel, emigration, and
voluntary repatriation. Irish authorities have accepted
asylum-seekers only on a limited basis and firmly apply
international definitions to those who claim refugee status.lEELAKD
Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens
to Change Their Government
Ireland has enjoyed a consistent history of orderly transfer
of power by elections since the end of the Irish civil war in
1923. The country has several political parties and provision
for independents to stand for election to either house of the
Irish Parliament. The constitutional requirement that
elections be held at least every 7 years has always been met.
Ireland uses a proportional voting system, and the secrecy of
the ballot is fully safeguarded. There is universal suffrage
for those over 18 years of age.
Section 4 Government Attitude Regarding International and
Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations
of Human Rights
Irish governments generally cooperate with independent outside
investigations of alleged human rights abuses, although they
have not always been receptive to prisoners' rights groups.
The Irish Council for Civil Liberties operates freely and
without hindrance as the principal independent organization
interested in domestic human rights issues.
Ireland has held the vice-chairmanship of the U.N. Human
Rights Commission, reflecting concern by both the Government
and people for worldwide respect for basic human rights. This
concern is reflected as well in support for Amnesty
International's activities in other countries.
Section 5 Discrimination Based On Race, Sex, Religion,
Language, or Social Status
Government social services provide adequate shelter, nutrition,
health care, and education without regard to race, religion,
sex, ethnic background, or political opinion. People whose
means are inadequate and who are not entitled to other benefits
may receive pensions or other payments from public funds.
The Anti-Discrimination (pay) Act of 1974 and the Employment
Equality Act of 1977 seek to provide protection and redress
against sex and pay discrimination. Their operation is
monitored by the Employment Equality Agency. The number of
cases has fallen in recent years, but this has not been
accompanied by real progress in eliminating the differential
in the key index of average hourly earnings in industry. In
June 1988, women's hourly earnings in the manufacturing sector
were 67 percent of men's earnings.
According to women activists, violence directed specifically
against women, including wife beating, is not acceptable in
Irish society. Nevertheless, violence against women occurs,
although its extent is not reliably known. Police frequently
are reluctant to bring domestic problems into court, and women
do not readily seek redress under the law for abuses committed
against them. The women's movement continues to highlight
family law, rape law reform, and social welfare discrimination
as problem areas.
Section 6 Worker Rights
      a. The Right of Association
Workers have the right to associate freely and to strike.
There is no basic law governing trade union activities. The
right to join a union is guaranteed by law, as is the right to
refrain from joining. Most businesses (covering over 56
percent of the labor force) are unionized.
The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), which represents
unions in both the Republic and Northern Ireland, has 81
member unions with 663,000 members. Both the ICTU and the
unaffiliated unions are independent of the Government and of
the political parties. The ICTU is affiliated with the
European Trade Union Confederation.
      b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively
Labor unions have full freedom to organize and to engage in
free collective bargaining. Most terms and conditions of
employment are determined through collective bargaining. As
part of the industrial relations machinery, the Labour Court,
consisting of an employer representative, a trade union
representative, and an independent chairman, may investigate
trade union disputes, recommend the terms of settlement,
engage in conciliation and arbitration, and set up joint
committees to regulate conditions of employment and minimum
rates of pay for workers in a given trade or industry. There
are no export processing zones.
      c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
Forced or compulsory labor is prohibited by law and does not
exist. For a number of years, however, the Committee of
Experts of the International Labor Organization (ILO) has
urged the Government to bring an 1894 merchant seaman's law,
still on the books, into conformity with ILO Convention 105 on
the Abolition of Forced Labor which Ireland has ratified. The
Government has assured the Committee that the provisions in
question regarding disciplinary measures for seamen have not
been used in recent times and that steps are under way to
amend the legislation.
      d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children
The minimum age for employment is 14 years with the written
permission of the parents. Irish laws limit the hours of
employment for 15-year-olds to 8 hours per day and 40 hours
per week. Those from 16 to 17 years of age may work up to 9
hours per day and 40 hours per week. These provisions are
effectively enforced.
      e. Acceptable Conditions of Work
There is no general minimum wage legislation. However, some
workers are covered by minimum wage laws applicable to
specific industrial sectors, mainly those which tend to pay
lower than average wages. The 1988 average weekly wage of
$310 for production and transport workers was generally
adequate to provide an acceptable standard of living. Working
hours in the industrial sector are limited to 9 hours per day
and 48 hours per week. Overtime work is limited to 2 hours
per day, 12 hours per week, and 240 hours in a year. Four
basic laws dealing with occupational safety provide adequate
coverage. An extensive system of public health insurance
offers health protection.rrALX
Italy is a democratic multiparty republic with a parliamentary
system of government. Parliament is directly and freely
elected on the basis of universal adult suffrage. Executive
authority is concentrated in the Council of Ministers, which
is currently led by Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti from the
Christian Democratic Party. The judiciary is independent of
the executive. The Chief of State, the President, is elected
by Parliament and representatives of Italy's 20 regions.
Terrorist violence of both the left and right has remained at
low levels in recent years, due to the effective work of
police and magistrates and its overwhelming rejection by the
people as a whole. Although terrorism has yet to be
completely overcome, its considerable reduction has freed
increased law enforcement resources for the struggle against
organized crime, which remains a serious problem.
Italy has an industrialized market economy ranking among the
top 10 in the world in gross national product. It is
characterized by sizable government ownership in the primary
industrial sectors and by a dynamic private sector, comprising
especially small and medium-sized companies.
In 1989 Italian citizens began to face directly the need to
confront the problem of racism. The issues of violence
against women and child abuse also were raised. The human
rights situation in general was good, and the trend toward
more openness in dealing with sensitive human relations
problems may require new legislation.
Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:
      a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing
Neither government forces nor legal opposition organizations
engage in these kinds of killing, and there were none in 1989.
      b. Disappearance
There were no cases of politically motivated disappearance or
      c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Freedom from torture is provided for by law and respected in
practice. Cruel and degrading punishment is forbidden by law,
and cases of violations have been rare. There were no
allegations of ill-treatment of prisoners during 1989.
      d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile
Police procedures are carefully controlled by law and judicial
oversight. Arbitrary arrest is not practiced. Anyone
detained by the authorities must be charged within 48 hours.
In normal criminal cases, the permitted duration of pretrial
detention varies according to the gravity of the crime. Under
reforms passed in 1984, the maximum time that any person may
be held in pretrial detention, even for the most serious
crimes, is 5 1/2 years and no more than 2 years at each step
of the trial and during the long appeals process