|AMRI delegation at UN CERD with Rapporteur|
The delegation was lead by CEO and Founder of AMRI Rosemary Adaser (2nd from right). She has worked tirelessly to get us to CERD in Geneva and assembled a formidable crowdfunding team of people joining us from LARC; Breda Corish, Aoife Hamill and Cara Sanquest. Rosemary has done incredible work for years to raise awareness of the treatment of mixed race people in Ireland.
We were also joined by Dr David Keane (far left) Dr David Keane, Associate Professor in International Human Rights Law at Middlesex University. David is an expert on the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD). He has been instrumental in the preparation of our Shadow Report and has been an invaluable adviser to us on CERD and friend to AMRI.
Jude Hughes (3rd from right) and Phil Mullen (far right) also joined the delegation with their wealth of experience and knowledge. Jude, who is based in Dublin, has been working on ant-racism activism for many decades in Ireland as far back as the 1970s. Phil, also based in Dublin, is currently working on a PhD, researching the experience of mixed race women in Irish institutions. The Rapporteur (3rd from left) who represented Ireland on the Committee is Verene Shepherd.
The talent and support from everyone has been incredible. We were also supported by several other organisations such as the Irish Centre for Human Rights NUI Galway, ENAR Ireland and The Irish Human Rights Commission, who raised our issues in their own reports submitted to CERD. A big thanks to everyone involved and all our supporters, as well as to all those who donated to our campaign, it means a lot to us.
As you know, our aim was to bring to the attention of CERD the human rights violations and racial discrimination endured by children of African fathers and Irish mothers while incarcerated in Irish Institutions.
We were hoping the government would address this issue in their report to CERD. But no, on the first day they failed to even mention a word to CERD that a Commission of Investigation was investigating systemic racism within mother and baby institutions. This was baffling to me and very disappointing. I was not expecting an apology given the investigation is ongoing but I was expecting some acknowledgment that they at least recognised the calls from our community to investigate this legacy issue. Not to even acknowledge this call was disingenuous.
You can read Minister Stanton's National Statement to CERD here . There is no mention of the mixed race Irish children nor a word about Mother and Baby Homes. This was the State's opening statement to the Committee in the afternoon on Monday 2 Dec.
However, it didn't end here. We worked hard to submit our own shadow report to CERD and we managed to get a private sitting with the Rapporteur for Ireland, Verene Shepherd on the Monday morning. She is a Jamaican who is acutely sensitive to racism and highly knowledgeable about slavery and colonialism. She listened to us behind closed doors and I could see she had an affinity with us and our concerns.
During the plenary session Rosemary gave an excellent talk about how we are the oldest community of people of African descent in Ireland and our legacy issues must be resolved in order to address the racism experienced today in Ireland. The Rapporteur also questioned us on what reparations would look like and I explained that it is not simply about compensation but must firstly be about acknowledgment and apology as well as dealing with mental health issues, education and memorialisation so people know our history and lessons can be learned.
The Rapporteur, was not going to let our issues go unheard. Following the State's report, mentioned above, Verene Shepherd then made her statement of observations to the State and she covered many issues relating to racial discrimination against all minorities. Her statement to the State about our particular issues was forcefully put and went as follows :