Special Criminal Court Procedural Safeguards in Question in Court of Appeal Case - IHREC - Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission

Special Criminal Court Procedural Safeguards in Question in Court of Appeal Case

Commission Granted Right to Appear as Amicus Curiae

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (the ‘Commission’) has today been granted leave by the Court of Appeal to exercise its amicus curiae (‘friend of the court’) function in a significant case on the rights of accused persons and procedural safeguards required for a fair trial.

The case of DPP v. RK and LM involves an appeal by the DPP following the acquittal by the Special Criminal Court of two men charged with IRA membership.

The Special Criminal Court excluded the belief evidence of a Detective Chief Superintendent given pursuant to section 3(2) of the Offences Against the State (Amendment) Act, 1972, following the refusal of the Detective Chief Superintendent to provide information on the basis of his belief; and following the decision of the DPP that prosecuting Counsel would not review the file of the Garda witness in order to assess if any disclosure of evidence could be made to the defence.

Appealing the ruling of the Special Criminal Court, the DPP contends that the trial Court erroneously excluded compelling evidence, that is to say the belief evidence of the Detective Chief Superintendent.

Significant human rights issues arise in such cases including the appropriate balance to be struck: between the vital public interest in protecting Garda investigations and on the other hand, the requirements of a fair trial under the Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights.

Sinéad Gibney, Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission stated:

“The Commission is exercising our amicus curiae function in this case in light of the important human rights issues arising. The determination of the appeal may have a significant impact in future cases.

“The Commission can assist the Court in seeking to examine the proper balance that must be struck between protecting the public interest and the requirements of a fair trial.”

ENDS/

 

For further information, please contact:

Karen Joynt, IHREC
01 8589 605 / 087 448 2963
Karen.Joynt@ihrec.ie
Follow us on twitter @_IHREC

Editor’s Note

As the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is now formally involved in the proceedings, we are precluded from making any further comment as the matter is before the Supreme Court.

Where written submissions are made by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission to the superior Courts in amicus curiae cases they will be made available on www.ihrec.ie after the case has been heard.

The amicus curiae function of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission.

The Commission’s functions under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014 include that of applying for liberty to appear as an amicus curiae (friend of the court) before the superior courts in proceedings that involve, or are concerned with, the human rights or equality rights of any person.

Section 10 of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act sets out the functions of the Commission and Section 10(2)(e) provides that the IHREC shall have a function:
“to apply to the High Court or the Supreme Court for liberty to appear before the High Court or the Supreme Court, as the case may be, as amicus curiae in proceedings before that Court that involve or are concerned with the human rights or equality rights of any person and to appear as such an amicus curiae on foot of such liberty being granted (which liberty each of the said courts is hereby empowered to grant in its absolute discretion).”

Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is an independent public body, appointed by the President and directly accountable to the Oireachtas. The Commission has a statutory remit set out under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act (2014) to protect and promote human rights and equality in Ireland, and build a culture of respect for human rights, equality and intercultural understanding in the State.

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is Ireland’s national human rights institution and is recognised as such by the United Nations. The Commission is also Ireland’s national equality body for the purpose of a range of EU anti-discrimination measures.

 

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