End non-jury courts - Sinn Fein
Gerry Adams has said that the retention of non jury courts and
repressive laws, whether in the Six or the 26 Counties, is at
odds with a credible human rights ethos.
Adams was speaking at the launch of a Sinn Féin response to the
British government's Criminal Justice Review.
Criticising the review for ``failing to engage with the depth of
alienation felt by nationalists and republicans,'' Sinn Féin
called for the creation of an all-Ireland Constitutional Court
and the establishment of an all-Ireland Law reform commission.
urgent independent review of the Juvenile Justice System, the
appointment in the north of a Minister for Children and the
closure of Lisnevin Juvenile Centre were also urged by the party.
Sinn Fein believes the use of Public Interest Immunity
Certificates should cease immediately and that the inquest system
needs to be reformed.
``The issue of a new Policing Service is absolutely coupled with
the future of the Criminal Justice System. Even if we get the
perfect Policing Service, unless that Policing Service is working
in harmony with a decent criminal justice system, the potential
for division and alienation and abuse remains'', said Adams.
British Secretary of State, Peter Mandelson, is claiming that the
Six Counties now leads the world in the protection and promotion
of human rights. ``How does this claim square with no jury courts
and repressive legislation,'' Adams retorted.
Michelle Gildernew, Sinn Féin Assembly member, said that under
the Good Friday Agreement, the Criminal Justice System aimed to
``deliver a fair and impartial system of justice'', be ``responsive
to the community's concerns'', and ``deliver justice efficiently
But the ability of the Criminal Justice Review to achieve these
goals had been severely undermined by it being largely an
internal review, conducted by Northern Ireland Office civil
servants, with only an independent advisory element.
``The very bureaucrats who were responsible for a system that had
already failed the democratic test, `` said Gildernew, ``were given
the job of delivering a fair and impartial system of justice.
``The flaw was exacerbated by the fact that Diplock Courts and
repressive legislation, the cornerstones of the Criminal Justice
System were excluded from the ambit of the review,'' she believes.
The British Secretary of State recently announced his decision to
retain the infamous Diplock Courts. ``This bodes ill for the
proposed human rights ethos of any new Criminal Justice System,''
``The Criminal Justice Review provided an opportunity to transform
a highly discredited and contentious justice system into one that
could contribute in a real way to the prospects for peace and
``Regrettably the review opted for a minimalist approach rather
than the root and branch reform that is needed. The level of
institutional resistance to change, that has characterised the
Six-County judicial and administrative elite, is clear throughout
Gildernew warned at the launch, that failure to implement
legislative change, including that envisged by the Patten Report,
will seriously undermine nationalist confidence in the peace
process. ``If the experience of the Patten report is to be
repeated with the Criminal Justice Review then we face a grave