Analysing the Irish Supreme Court judgement of Sweeney v Governor of Loughan House Open Centre and Others in the light of the European Court of Human Rights’ Jurisprudence on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons

In: European Journal of Crime, Criminal Law and Criminal Justice

The majority of Irish nationals transferred from abroad to serve their sentences in Ireland are transferred from the United Kingdom. Likewise, the majority of foreign nationals transferred from Ireland to serve their sentences in their countries of nationality are transferred to the United Kingdom. This means that the United Kingdom is Ireland’s major prisoner receiving and sending country. In July 2014 the Supreme Court of Ireland held that an offender who had been sentenced to 16 years’ imprisonment in the United Kingdom and transferred to serve his sentence in Ireland must be released after serving in Ireland the custodial sentence he would have served had he not been transferred to serve his sentence in Ireland. To reach this conclusion, the Supreme Court referred to the Transfer of Sentenced Persons Act, the Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons Act and to the relevant English law. This article highlights the implications of this judgement for the transfer of offenders between Ireland and the United Kingdom in particular and other countries in general. In order to put the discussion in context, the article first deals with the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights on the transfer of offenders.

  • 4

    In April 2014, 778 Irish nationals were serving prison sentences in the uk, see M. Duell, ‘Poland tops league for foreign inmates in uk’s overcrowded jails ahead of Ireland and Jamaica with almost 1,000 behind bars’, Daily Mail (27 April 2014), available online at (accessed 26 July 2014). For the same figures, see also Report by the Comptroller and Auditor General, Home Office, Ministry of Justice and Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Managing and Removing Foreign National Offenders, 22 October 2014, p. 13, available online at (accessed 4 November 2014).

  • 69

    M. Abbell, International Prisoner Transfer (Leiden: Brill Nijhoff, 2010) pp. 24–30, 110–111.

  • 92

     See Abbell, loc. cit., pp. 147–148.

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