The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) has said that expanding the role of the Special Criminal Court to include gangland crime would place Ireland “in the dock” with the United Nations Human Rights Committee.
Reacting to recent calls for “draconian” action against gangland criminals, ICCL Director Mr Mark Kelly said:
“The Irish Council for Civil Liberties utterly condemns the activities of violent criminals. As the President has recently stated, such people make no contribution to society beyond the devastation they wreak. It is vital, however, that the State’s response to such illegal activities respects the rule of law.”
“Seven years 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. Ireland is due to appear before this Committee again next year, and any moves to further expand the role of the Special Criminal Court would place the State in the dock at the United Nations” he added.
“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.
For further information contact: Amy Pearson @ 01 799 4503 or 087 998 1574.
Note to Editors:
Ireland is due to appear before the United Nations Human Rights Committee in 2008.
After Ireland’s last appearance before the Human Rights Committee, it concluded that:
“15. The law establishing the Special Criminal Court does not specify clearly the cases which are to be assigned to that Court but leaves it to the broadly defined discretion of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). The Committee is also concerned at the continuing operation of the Offences Against the State Act, that the periods of detention without charge under the Act have been increased, that persons may be arrested on suspicion of being about to commit an offence, and that the majority of persons arrested are never charged with an offence. It is concerned that, in circumstances covered by the Act, failure to respond to questions may constitute evidence supporting the offence of belonging to a prohibited organization. The application of the Act raises problems of compatibility with articles 9 and 14, paragraph 3 (g), of the Covenant. The Committee regrets that legal assistance and advice may not be available until a person has been charged.
16. Steps should be taken to end the jurisdiction of the Special Criminal Court and to ensure that all criminal procedures are brought into compliance with articles 9 and 14 of the Covenant.”
The full text of the Committee’s Concluding Observations on Ireland can be found at: