Last week, in AKJ and others v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis, the English High Court gave judgment in a case considering the behaviour of undercover state agents and the ability of the courts to monitor their acts. The case concerned claims against the police arising from the actions of various Covert Human Intelligence Sources (CHIS) who began and maintained sexual relationships with a number of female environmental protestors while acting as undercover officers. The claimants, all political activists, alleged that the sustained deceptions were degrading under Art 3, and that they interfered gravely with the right to respect for their private lives under Art 8, resulting in serious personal injury.
The CHIS had been authorised under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 to act undercover to infiltrate “extreme left wing groups” in the UK and to establish or maintain any personal relationship for that covert purpose .
Continue reading “Licence to Thrill? RIPA and Covert Human Intelligence Sources”
Human Rights in Ireland is delighted to welcome this guest post by Gilbert Leung, kindly reposted from Critical Legal Thinking.
On 14 April 2011, the High Court of England and Wales ruled, in R (on the application of Joshua Moos and Hannah McClure) v The Commissioner of the Police of the Metropolis, that the police had acted unlawfully in “containing” (aka kettling) certain G20 protestors on 1 April 2009. It made clear that the police must be in reasonable apprehension of an “imminent breach of the peace” before taking “preventative action”. Preventative action includes kettling, but only “as a last resort catering for situations about to descend into violence”. That the police cannot arbitrarily kettle protestors can be seen as good news for political activists. The bad news, for those who see kettling as an always unjustifiably brutal form of collective punishment, is that the High Court affirmed its legality under the conditions stated above. And with these conditions, there is always room for interpretation.
For example, in defining the word “imminence”, the judges said that it simply meant a breach of the peace was “likely to happen”. At the same time, they admitted that any determination of likelihood “may be applied with a degree of flexibility” by the police. Add to this the necessity for reasonable apprehension (what is reasonable?), it becomes clear that you don’t have to look too far to see that significant discretion is still retained by the police. How this bears out in practice is yet to be seen, but certain signs point towards a state of peace––officially the Queen’s peace––that is constitutively haunted by a violence that is sometimes latent, hidden and silently simmering, and at other times overt, furious and bloody.
Continue reading “Guest Post: Who's Breaching Whose Peace?: R (Moos & Mclure) v Commissioner of the Police”
The Department of Justice has invited comment on the White Paper discussion document Organised and White Collar Crime. The paper examines the extent of and legal reactions to a vast array of crimes like drug trafficking, fraud, money laundering, white collar crime and bribery. It asserts that the complex nature of such crimes, the degree of organisation involved, and the use of technology in the perpetration of such acts warrants strategies over and above those used in traditional law enforcement. It questions whether legislative and structural approaches adopted in other jurisdictions should be implemented in Ireland in combating organised, armed gang and white collar crime.
While a range of crimes are addressed, my comments centre on the section on organised crime. Although the paper acknowledges the difficulty in defining organised crime, this does not deter it from seeking to address the phenomenon. It also adopts the dubious, morally loaded and indefinable term “gangland” which is unappealing in a formal document rather than a journalistic piece. Continue reading “White Paper on Organised and White Collar Crime”
The images of the Gardai’s horse charge or their over-zealous use of the baton (knocking a young woman out cold and bloodying the faces of others), being used on peaceful student demonstrations has a chilling effect. We are unaccustomed to seeing our Gardai in the same light as (the very often violent) Italian or French police forces. We are unaccustomed to Garda cavalry charges past the Shelbourne. To me, it brings back the memories of the 2009 Financial Fools march in London and some of the ensuing police violence, which lead among other things to the death of the bystander Ian Tomlinson. After that day, myself and a colleague penned this piece for Critical Legal Thinking. I was asked to republish it here which I think is appropriate.
Continue reading “At the Blunt Edge of a Cosh: Police Violence & The Student Protests”
Human Rights in Ireland is delighted to welcome this guest post from Siobhan Drislane, Law Reform Commission. This post is published in Siobhan’s personal capacity and may not necessarily reflect the views of the Law Reform Commission.
One of the core concerns of the law relating to juvenile justice, and indeed child law as a whole, is that of detention. Firstly, it is a well established principle that detention of a child should only be used as a measure of last resort. This principle has been expressly identified by:
- Rule 13.1 (in the context of detention pending trial) and Rule 19 of the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice (“Beijing Rules”) 1985
- Article 8 of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child 1990
- Rules 1 and 2 of the United Nations Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty 1990.
Furthermore, all of the above provisions specify that detention of a child should last for the minimum period appropriate.
In the Irish context the Children Act 2001, per section 96(2), states that “a period of detention should be imposed only as a measure of last resort”. This statement expressly mirrors the position set out in international instruments. Additionally, section 143(1) of the 2001 Act states that a court “shall not make an order imposing a period of detention on a child unless it is satisfied that detention is the only suitable way of dealing with the child”. Continue reading “Drislane on Child Detention, International Law and Ireland”