8 June 2020
The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) has welcomed the decriminalisation of the restrictions on personal liberties in the new regulations that came into force today. ICCL has been calling for the separation of health advice from criminal law since the outset of the public health emergency, which we considered opened the door to disproportionate responses. Last week, we said any extension of emergency garda powers would be “inappropriate and unworkable”.
ICCL’s Senior Research and Policy Officer Doireann Ansbro , said
“We are glad to see that the government is removing criminal penalties for the exercise of rights. Any limits on rights in health emergencies must be demonstrably necessary and proportionate to the aim of protecting public health. We saw no evidence that continued criminalisation and prosecution in relation to public health advice was justified or likely to be effective.
We all should continue to follow public health advice but law abiding citizens can now do so with more confidence, in the knowledge that potential criminal sanctions are no longer hanging over them.”
ICCL is glad to see a phased return to policing by consent, which we have called for on numerous occasions since the outset of this crisis. The World Health Organisation is also clear that fostering a sense of cooperation and trust yields better results than a more authoritarian approach. Advice, cooperation and trust must be the hallmark of the next phase of our response to Covid-19.
We note that organising events for more than 15 people will still attract criminal penalties. We hope to see a lifting of these penal provisions as soon as public health advice allows.
Notes for editors:
Find the regulations here: https://www.gov.ie/en/news/7e0924-latest-updates-on-covid-19-coronavirus/#latest-regulations
The Irish Council for Civil Liberties is Ireland’s oldest independent human rights monitoring organisation. We monitor, educate and campaign for all human rights for everyone.
For comment: Doireann Ansbro or Liam Herrick
For media enquiries: Sinéad Nolan firstname.lastname@example.org 087 4157162