Archive for the ‘Criminal Justice’ Category

New Garda Sex Offences Unit to be Established

We at Human Rights in Ireland welcome the announcement by Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy yesterday that a new Garda Unit dealing with sex offences is to be established. Speaking at the Annual Conference of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors in Galway,  Commissioner Murphy said that the publication of the  Murphy and Ryan Reports had “highlighted shameful history of child sexual abuse in this State.”  He continued:

We now see the community looking for answers as to how such abuse occurred and An Garda Síochána has had to ask its own searching questions following critical findings and comment about the manner in which some complaints were investigated. Read more…

CCHJR 4th Annual Criminal Law Conference

March 29, 2010 Leave a comment

From the Centre for Criminal Justice and Human Rights (CCJHR) blog comes news of the 4th Annual Criminal Law Conference which will focus on victims in the criminal justice system.

Further information on the conference, and registration details, can be found here.

“Romeo and Juliet”: Gender discrimination law challenge rejected

March 26, 2010 2 comments

The High Court has today rejected a challenge to the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act, 2006 which was based on a claim of gender discrimination. The case involved a young man, now aged 18, who had sexual intercourse with a girl of 14 when he himself was 15.

The legislation in question provides for the offences of “defilement of a child under 15 years of age” (s. 2) and “defilement of a child under 17 years of age” (s. 3). Under both of these provisions it is an offence to engage in a sexual act with a child under the relevant age. However, s. 5 of the 2006 Act states that

A female child under the age of 17 years shall not be guilty of an offence under this Act by reason only of her engaging in an act of sexual intercourse.

The claim before  the High Court was that the 2006 Act involved old-fashioned gender discrimination, which had no legitimate justification. Read more…

Carlin v DPP: Prosecutorial Discretion and the Decision (not) to Prosecute

March 25, 2010 2 comments

Last week the Supreme Court issued an important decision on the right of the DPP to reverse a previous decision not to prosecute. The decision in Carlin v DPP confirms the partial immunity from judicial review enjoyed by the DPP in relation to the decision to prosecute.

Up until the 1980s, the DPP enjoyed a practically absolute immunity from judicial review of his discretion, however that position has been modified some what to conclude that a “special protection” attaches to his decisions to prosecute or not. In Eviston v DPP [2002] 3 I.R. 260 the Supreme Court affirmed the application of fair procedures to the decision making processes of the DPP. Without going into the details of Eviston (see Micheal O’Higgins SC’s incisive analysis here) the Supreme Court held that the Director was entitled to review an earlier decision not to prosecute and to arrive at a different decision even in the absence of new evidence and was not obliged in either instance to give reasons. Stress caused to the applicant by the initiating of the prosecution following the communication to her of a decision not to prosecute would not, of itself, afford her legal grounds for an order halting the prosecution. The Court also found that the DPP was required to apply fair procedures in the exercise of his statutory functions in particular circumstances and that, on the facts of this particular case, the DPP had failed to accord the applicant fair procedures and on that basis the prosecution should be stopped. An important part of the Court’s finding in this regard was the communication to Mrs Eviston of the decision not to prosecute. Read more…

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New Irish Criminology Research Network Blog

March 22, 2010 2 comments

The Irish Criminology Research Network has just announced the launch of its new blog.

Established in 2009, the Network comprises of researchers, students, academics and practitioners with an interest in criminology and the Irish criminal justice system. Members are from a range of academic institutions and agencies north and south of Ireland.

Members of the Network research and write about crime, criminal justice and criminology in Ireland and further afield. The blog aims to discuss issues of critical concern.

For more details, please contact Nicola Carr at

Stern Review into the handling of rape cases in the UK

March 15, 2010 Leave a comment

Today saw the publication of Baroness Vivien Stern’s review into the handling and reporting of rape cases in England and Wales. Baroness Stern (pictured left) is a Senior Research Fellow at the International Centre for Prison Studies (ICPS) at King’s College, London, and there is much in her review that is relevant to those involved in criminal justice and law reform debates surrounding the offence of rape throughout the legal systems of the UK and Ireland. This post provides a short overview of the focal points of the review. Read more…

Children and the Criminal Justice System

March 13, 2010 4 comments

The return of Jon Venables, one of the men (then boys) convicted of the murder of Jamie Bulger has sparked a fresh debate on how we respond to children who commit crimes and what we expect the criminal justice system to achieve in such cases.

Today the Ministry of Justice in the UK has announced that it has rejected calls to raise the age of criminal responsibility from ten to twelve. Scotland is in the process of amending its legislation to raise the age of responsibility from eight to twelve. Ireland made similar moves in 2001 under the Childrens Act, however in serious cases (murder, manslaughter, rape or aggravated assault) ten or eleven year olds can be prosecuted. Read more…