As Ireland faces renewed scrutiny from international human rights organisations in relating to ‘emergency’ Offences Against the State Act and the non- jury Special Courts, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission joins those calling for their abolition.
The Commission has recommended that the State abolish the Special Criminal Court, and declare that the ordinary courts are adequate to secure the effective administration of justice and the preservation of public peace and order.
This step is necessary, the Commission says, due to the significant human rights and equality concerns associated with the Special Criminal Court, and the Offences Against the State Act (OASA) which established it and govern its operation.
As Ireland’s National Human Rights Institution and National Equality Body, the Commission has made the recommendations to the Government’s Independent Review Group on the Offences Against the State Acts.
“Abolition of the Special Criminal Court and the repeal of the OASA is the only viable solution to vindicate the rights of an accused to a fair trial.”
The provisions of the OASA, and in particular the provisions providing for the establishment of the SCC, engage a number of fundamental rights protected under the Constitution, the European Convention on Human Rights Act 2003, European Union law and international human rights law. These rights include: the right to a trial by jury; the right to a fair trial; the right to equality before the courts; the right to equality before the law; the right to liberty; the right to disclosure; the right to cross examine; the right to silence and the privilege against self-incrimination.