Repatriation is an important issue for many ICPO clients who wish to serve their sentence close to their families. Maintaining family ties during a period of imprisonment is essential to ensure effective reintegration and rehabilitation. Transfer to an Irish prison also provides people with an opportunity to adequately prepare for their release, allowing them to access essential supports and services in Ireland.

Update – September 2018

Applications for transfer to Ireland, irrespective of the country where the person is imprisoned, have been ‘on hold’ for over two years pending legislative change to deal with the legal difficulties arising from Supreme Court decisions in 2014 and 2016. Not all foreign sentencing regimes present the same legal difficulties as sentences handed down in the UK and the ICPO had raised this with the Department of Justice. As a result of this advocacy, applications from countries other than the UK are now being processed again. This is a very welcome development for those people around the world who are being detained hundreds or thousands of miles away from loved ones in Ireland. 

Unfortunately repatriation applications remain ‘on hold’ for prisoners in the UK. The ICPO has been informed that legislation to deal with the challenge of adapting UK sentences to equivalent Irish sentences will come before the Houses of the Oireachtas (parliament) in the Autumn. 

To find out more about the current situation read our update on repatriation.

How to apply for repatriation

Before applications were put on hold, the process was lengthy and it was taking up to two years to receive a decision on an application for repatriation. In general a person must be convicted and sentenced before they can apply for repatriation. To find out more about eligibility and the application process read our factsheet on repatriation.

Transfers to Ireland are governed by the Transfer of Sentenced Persons Acts, which ratified the Council of Europe Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons. Over 60 states operate the convention, including some South and Central American countries. If a country is not a signatory to the Convention a transfer will require a bilateral agreement between the two states.

The Minister for Justice and Equality produces an annual report on the operation of the transfer legislation which shows the number of prisoners transferred in and out of Ireland:
Transfer of Sentenced Persons Annual Report 2017

The ICPO monitors repatriation applications with the Department of Justice and Equality on behalf of clients and is grateful to the Department of Justice for its assistance in this regard.