Posts Tagged ‘Criminal Justice’

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…

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

Progress on ending imprisonment for fine-defaulting

March 18, 2010 Leave a comment

The Fines Bill has been passed by the Dáil and is now before the Seanad. I wrote about the provisions of the Bill here.

As this piece in the Irish Times argues, it is to be hoped that the judiciary implement the finalised Act in full. District Court sentencing is something about which we know rather little, but the proliferation of short sentence prisoners in Irish jails tends to suggest that minor offences do attract custodial sentences on a not-infrequent basis. Those interested in penal reform in Ireland will hope that this signal from the Oireachtas will lead to a reassessment amongst District Court judges of their sentencing practice and prompt further legislative activity to promote genuine alternatives to custody.

One entirely unnecessary stick to beat the prison system with is about to be removed. There remains more to be done. Ireland gives out some of the highest numbers of short sentences in Europe. Dealing with this category of prisoners within the community makes obvious financial and social sense. Ending imprisonment for fine default is a small step in the right direction.

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Human Rights Lexicon: Human Rights in Criminal Justice

March 17, 2010 3 comments

In this first contribution to our St. Patrick’s Day blog event, the Human Rights Lexicon, Dr Liz Campbell–a regular contributor to HRinI–considers Human Rights in Criminal Justice

The prevailing attitude in the political sphere is that the influence of human rights in the Irish justice process is a negative one, resulting in a system which is focused unjustifiably on due process rights, and pays scant regard to the imperatives of crime control. The criminal process is seen as excessively concerned with the rights and liberties of the suspect or accused, while disregarding the harm caused to the community and the victim by criminal acts. This is believed to result in a justice system which is biased disproportionately towards the individual accused, and which stymies effective crime control, by circumscribing the powers of the State, and which denigrates the victim and wider society. Read more…

Know Your Rights

March 16, 2010 Leave a comment

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties has now released the first of its Know Your Rights booklets. The Know Your Rights campaign is directed towards making people aware of their rights in different situations and communicating those rights in clear and accessible language. The first of these booklets relates to criminal justice and Garda powers and is available for download here and is both comprehensive and comprehensible–well worth downloading.

The Know Your Rights campaign is exactly the kind of thing that we need to be doing in Ireland by means of human rights education for the general populace and the ICCL are to be commended for their leadership on this matter.

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…