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Peart SCC review group to do a sweep of relevant EU law
Mr Justice Michael Peart Pic: Jason Clarke

04 Aug 2021 / courts Print

Peart SCC review group to sweep relevant EU law

Mr Justice Michael Peart has told justice minister Heather Humphreys that the review group examining all aspects of the Offences Against the State Acts 1939 to 1998 (OASA) has been working to a foundational research plan, formulating the main issues which it should address.

The group will do a sweep of EU case law as part of its review of the non-jury judge-only court.

Because of the complex, inter-related nature of the provisions to be considered, both separately and together, the group believes that it would not be practical or appropriate to make any interim recommendations prior to the completion of its work.

The goal remains to issue a final report by the end of April 2022.

The three phases set out in the research plan are:

  • An update on jurisprudential, legislative and policy developments relating directly to the Offences Against the State Acts 1939 – 1998,
  • An outline of the broader domestic legislative context in which the OASA currently exist, including analysis of the criminal law, with a view to addressing the question of which provisions would exist to deal with subversive and organised crime if the OASA if were no longer in place,
  • An analysis of broader international developments of relevance to the OASA since the publication of the Hederman Report in August 2002, with a focus on relevant European Union law, the case law of the European Court of Human Rights, any relevant decisions, observations or comments of the UN Human Rights Committee, as well as any relevant UN Security Council Resolutions.

Update

Researchers have also written a comprehensive update on developments relating to the following under the OASA:

  • Offences,
  • Belief evidence and informer privilege,
  • Powers of arrest and detention,
  • Inferences from silence,
  • Property orders,
  • Witness immunity,
  • The Special Criminal Court (SCC).

The second phase of the research will also include an examination of:

Parties whose views will be sought include:

  • An Garda Síochána,
  • Office of the DPP,
  • Irish Council for Civil Liberties,
  • Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission,
  • UN Human Rights Commissioner.

The review group will consider what other such bodies and interest groups may be relevant.

This analysis is expected to review case law relevant to the right to silence, the right to a jury trial, opinion evidence, and surveillance/privacy.

Commentaries

The group will also consider any relevant commentaries by international bodies that have touched upon the continued existence of the Special Criminal Court. 

The group has also identified a number of topics that can usefully form the basis of discussions over the coming months, to conclude in November/December 2021.

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