Fair Trials joins coalition to end Ireland’s Special Criminal Court

Article by Fair Trials

Fair Trials has joined a coalition with the Irish Council for Civil Liberties and other organisations, to call for an end to Ireland’s Special Criminal Court (SCC).

The court was established in 1972, shortly after the start of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, as an emergency measure to deal with cases of terrorism and crimes against the state. Fifty years later, and twenty years after the Troubles ended, the ‘emergency’ measure is still in place. Worse, its remit has been expanded to include all manner of offences and essentially provides prosecutors with unchecked discretion to abrogate fundamental rights of the accused.

The ICCL has highlighted six areas of particular concern: “the lack of a jury; the dual role of judges as both judge and jury; the extensive powers of the DPP; claims of privilege by gardaí; and the acceptance of beliefs and inferences as evidence”.

Fair Trials’ Chief Executive Norman L. Reimer said:

“Emergency measures should always be temporary. They should end when the emergency ends. A generation later, the continued existence of Ireland’s Special Criminal Court poses a serious threat to the right to a fair trial and the right to the presumption of innocence.

Along with the ICCL, we are calling for the SCC to be abolished and to ensure access to courts that can adequately safeguard the rights of all accused persons. Those courts are fully equipped to determine whether any extra precautions are necessary upon an evidentiary showing on a case-by-case basis”

Find out more about Ireland’s SCC:

Listen to Fair Trials’ trustee and defence lawyer Nancy Hollander explain on RTE radio why the SCC should be abolished.