Ireland’s top rights watchdog, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) has strongly condemned renewed suggestions by the Minister for Justice that the role of the Special Criminal Court may be expanded.
Nearly a decade ago, the United Nations Human Rights Committee called upon Ireland to “end the jurisdiction of the Special Criminal Court” in order to ensure that all criminal procedures respect the rights to liberty, security and fair and equal treatment before the law.
Last summer, the UN’s top human rights experts again formally expressed their dissatisfaction with the continued existence of this emergency court and, in a couple of weeks time, the Government is due to report to Geneva on the steps that is taking to abolish the Special Criminal Court.
ICCL Director Mr. Mark Kelly said:
“In a matter of weeks, the United Nations’ top human rights experts will call upon the Minister’s senior officials to justify the continued existence of the Special Criminal Court. In these circumstances, for Dermot Ahern to moot the expansion of the Court shows a flagrant disregard for Ireland’s international human rights obligations.”
“If we are to effectively tackle gangland crime, the Gardaí must be placed in a position to fully enforce existing criminal laws, especially in cases where attempts are made to intimidate key witnesses. The emphasis should be upon intelligence-led and community-based policing coupled with improved witness protection, rather than on undermining the rule of law by expanding the Special Criminal Court” he concluded.