Cautious welcome by rights group

INTELLIGENCE-LED policing is the most effective way to tackle gangland crime, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) has said.

Reacting to the new Criminal Justice Surveillance Bill published yesterday, the head of the ICCL cautiously welcomed the legislation, which will allow evidence gathered by covert surveillance operations to be used in court.

ICCL director, Mark Kelly, said the bill will at last place Garda surveillance on a lawful basis that broadly conforms to Ireland’s obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights.

However, Mr Kelly said while the need for judicial authorisation of most forms of surveillance is welcome, it remains unclear why it is felt acceptable to allow tracking devices to be placed on people’s vehicles on Garda authority alone.

In the interests of the protection of privacy, the ICCL urged Justice Minister Dermot Ahern to publicly disclose, before the bill becomes law, the proposed content of the regulations. It said this was necessary to ensure there will be a human rights complaint framework for use by the gardaí.

“Intelligence-led policing of the sort to which this bill relates, and not the further restriction of fair trial rights, is the most effective way to tackle gangland crime,” said Mr Kelly.

“The ICCL hopes that this will bring an end to the patent nonsense that has been mooted in recent days regarding the expansion of the role of the Special Criminal Court, which would do nothing whatsoever to tackle the problem of witness intimidation.”


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