Republican News · Thursday 30 March 2000

[An Phoblacht]

Criminal Justice Review due today

Proposals due to be published by the Criminal Justice Review will be published today, Thursday, 30 March, An Phoblacht has learned.

Meanwhile, a checklist to enable the public to judge the anticipated proposals has been timely issued by a cross section of community organisations and human rights groups.

The Review Group has already accepted that the Good Friday Agreement requires that proposals for a new criminal justice system must end the alienation of the nationalist community and create an accountable, representative, impartial justice system.

Mark Thompson of the Relatives for Justice group said: ``From the viewpoint of those concerned with civil liberties and, more importantly, bereaved families and survivors seeking truth and justice, there needs to be real change.''

The justice system needs radical change to bring it closer to the community, said Patricia McCartney of the Falls Community Council. ``The justice system has continuously marginalised the nationalist community.''

Tom Holland of the Ardoyne Commemoration Project said any new criminal justice system needs to be ``impartial, democratic, accountable and open to public scrutiny, representative of all sections of our society and totally free from political interference.

``To ensure the establishment of such a system, maximum consultation with political and community representatives is essential, based also on a firm time frame for implementation.''

``Republican ex prisoners more than most have reason to be suspicious of the criminal justice system,'' said Mike Ritchie of Coiste na n-Íarchimí. ``The Criminal Justice Review was negotiated as a key aspect of the Good Friday Agreement. Unless justice operates with fairness, we will not be able to move out of conflict.''

The Criminal Justice Review can be judged against a number of questions, say the community and human rights groups. These include:

  • Will we get new judges?

  • Will there be a new, independent prosecution service?

  • Will incidents be investigated properly and fairly?

  • Will the ethos of the courts reflect Irish as well as British culture and will it be neutral?

  • Will Community Restorative Justice be encouraged?

  • Will the justice system and those running the system be representative of all sections of society and will human rights be at the core of that system?

  • Will emergency legislation be ended?

  • Will the justice system enable the harmonisation of law on an all-Ireland basis, with an all-Ireland constitutional court?

  • Will there be proper monitoring and oversight to ensure fairness for all?

  • Will change happen or will proposals for change be put on the long finger?

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