http://blogs.ucc.ie/ccjhr/ CCJHR Blog

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

CCJHR Seminar - Children's rights: The Proposed Constitutional Amendment

The Centre for Criminal Justice and Human Rights at UCC is pleased to announce the following seminar:

Children’s Rights: The Proposed Constitutional Amendment

Thursday April 15, 12.00-2.30 pm

Venue:
Room LG 52
Cavanagh Pharmacy Building
College Road
Cork

Speakers

The seminar will be chaired by Dr Ursula Kilkelly.

Light refreshments will be provided.

A limited number of places are available, so please register your interest in attending by e-mailing conor.omahony@ucc.ie.

2 Hours of CPD points are available for attendance at this event.

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Thursday, 25 March 2010

Announcing the CCHJR 4th Annual Criminal Law Conference


Accommodating Victims in the Criminal Justice System:
An Inclusionary or Punitive Logic?

Friday, 11th June, University College Cork


The Centre for Criminal Justice and Human Right at the Faculty of Law at UCC is delighted to host its fourth annual criminal law conference, entitled Accommodating Victims in the Criminal Justice System. The aim of the conference is to update delegates on current debates in criminal justice with particular emphasis on the role of victims of crime. For much of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the victim in the criminal process was confined largely to a bit-part role of reporting crime and of adducing evidence in court as a witness, if needed. More recently, however, the process is gradually becoming more effective in accommodating the needs and concerns of victims of crime. In the last three decades, in particular, the status of the crime victim has gradually altered from being perceived as a ‘non-entity’ or ‘hidden casualty’ to a stakeholder whose interests and opinions matter. Crime victims are beginning to be anchored as key constituents in the criminal justice landscape and criminal justice agencies will have to rework their relationships with them.

Notwithstanding the increased recognition of victims in the criminal process, some commentators would argue that that many of the needs of victims continue to be unmet. A lack of knowledge among criminal justice agencies about the needs of victims of crime is a key issue. There also remains a problem with the under-reporting of crime. Other issues that cause concern to victims include harassment, intimidation by the process, attrition rates, the lack of private areas in courts, difficulties with procedural rules and legal definitions, delays in the system, and inadequate support services. Other commentators would argue that this shift in the status of the victim will contribute to a reprioritisation of commitments resulting in a recalibration of the scales of justice that further hollow out the rights of those accused of crime. This conference will explore all of these issues with leading experts in the field.

It is anticipated that the conference will act as a forum where legal practitioners, victims’ rights advocacy/support groups, Garda officers, social workers, probation officers, civil servants, judges and academics, can discuss issues of common interest.

For information relating to the conference, please telephone the conference administrator, Ms Noreen Delea, at 021 4902728, or email her at ccjhr@ucc.ie

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Monday, 22 March 2010

Changes needed to Mental Health Act 2001

The Mental Health Commission has started work on developing a Code of Practice on the Mental Health Act 2001. The Commission seeks views on which parts of the Act, if any, further guidance should be provided on and the closing date for receipt of feedback is Wednesday 28th April. For further information, see this page.
Meanwhile, papers and videos from the recent Mental Health Law conference at University College Cork are available here. The conference was jointly organised by UCC Faculty of Law and the Irish Mental Health Lawyers Association. Speakers included Mary Forde of Amnesty International Ireland, Patricia Rickard-Clarke of the Law Reform Commission, Michael Lynn, B.L., Diarmaid Ring, Mental Health Service User and Activist, Dr Mary Donnelly of UCC, Áine Hynes, Solicitor, Hugh Kane, CEO of the Mental Health Commission, Mark Felton, Solicitor, and Dr Darius Whelan of UCC. Dr Mary Henry, former independent Senator, spoke at the book launch which followed the conference. Each session was lively and informative, with plenty of genuine engagement between the 120 members of the audience and the speakers. One of the many interesting slides was one from Hugh Kane about the need for reforms of mental health law, which included the following items:
  • Urgent need for Capacity Legislation
  • Review of Section 59(1), Mental Health Act 2001 [This concerns Electro-Convulsive Therapy]
  • Section 23/24, Mental Health Act 2001 [Re-grading of patients from voluntary to involuntary status]
  • Measurement of performance, overall impact of mental health tribunals, Section 49, Mental Health Act 2001
  • Need for automatic independent legal representative for children admitted to approved centres, Section 25(14), Mental Health Act 2001.
  • Definition of ‘best interests’, Section 4, Mental Health Act 2001

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Tuesday, 16 March 2010

CALL FOR PAPERS: POSTGRADUATE AND EARLY CAREER WORKSHOP WITH PROFESSOR LOIS MCNAY

'Subjects Before the Law: Membership, Recognition and the Religious Dimensions of Women's Citizenship.'Workshop with Professor Lois McNay.

We invite PhD students and Early Career Researchers (no more than 3 years post-viva) from any discipline to apply to participate in a workshop, to take place on Thursday, September 9, 2010. The workshop is hosted by the Centre for Criminal Justice and Human Rights and the Institute for Social Science in the 21st Century, University College Cork, Ireland. The workshop is organised as part of an IRCHSS Thematic Project on Gender Equality, Religious Diversity and Multiculturalism in Contemporary Ireland.

The workshop organisers are Eoin Daly and Máiréad Enright.

WORKSHOP THEME

Recent years have witnessed a shift by states away from policies and politics of multiculturalism. Against a background of diminishing state sovereignty, matters of affiliation, allegience, membership and belonging have become important projects for government. Across Europe, transnational and sub-national constellations of belonging are viewed as threatening social cohesion, loosening the ties that bind the nation-state. State responses have been marked by an anxious and exclusionary politics of membership, which seek to restore and re-inscribe the state's role as first or sole sovereign. Religious citizens have appealed to notions of religious rights grounded in law in an effort to bypass or restrict state scrutiny and regulation of group activity.Such attempts can be seen today in debates on the role of Muslim family law, in litigation on the display and wearing of religious symbols and in the regulation of intimate relations and reproductive autonomy. Historically, the demarcation of gender roles has frequently been intertwined with attempts to identify defining attributes of national identity. Thus, new interactions between religious groups and the state in the field of law have particular implications for women, as gender roles and status become intertwined with the boundaries and limits of membership.

The aim of the workshop is to discuss themes and questions such as:
  • What are the implications for women of the shift away from multicultural policies and politics?
  • Can law provide 'refuge' for religion from hostile post-secular politics? How should we imagine the new 'legal turn' in religious engagement with the state?
  • Who is the religious subject before the law? How does the law construct women's religious, cultural and political affiliations? How might it do better?
  • What does recognition theory tell us about the possibilities and limits of religious engagements with law?
  • What are the limits and role of rights discourse in responding to deficiencies in how law 'sees' religion?
  • What shape does the 'public' concept of citizenship take in the regulation of 'private sphere' religious activity?
  • What are the implications of integration and citizenship testing for women? What should be the responses of feminist and human rights discourse to such testing?
  • How useful are concepts of 'multiplicity', 'plurality' and 'intersectionality' to a legal analysis of membership conflicts?
  • Where and how do we locate Ireland in current debates on women's membership, multiculturalism and the law?


PARTICIPATING

If you would like to present a paper, please email corkworkshop2010@gmail.com to express your interest. Your email should cotain:

  • Your position and the name of your university/research centre.
  • A 250 word abstract of the paper you propose to present at the workshop. Your paper should address an aspect of your thesis or other research as it relates to one or more of the questions set out in the workshop theme above.
  • Your CV, including a list of any publications, forthcoming publications and papers presented at other conferences and workshops to date.
  • The title and short description (no more than 250 words) of your current major research topic (PhD candidates should provide details of their thesis)

Participants will commit to:

  • Producing a draft paper (no more than 7,500 words) for circulation to all participants in advance of the workshop.
  • Presenting their paper to the workshop (for 20 - 25 minutes, with time afterwards for questions and discussion)
  • Acting as a discussant for one of the other papers.
  • Reading the other papers in advance of the workshop and participating in the general discussion of other papers.

Deadline for applications: May 1 2010.

Successful applicants notified: May 15 2010.

Deadline for draft papers: July 15 2010.

WORKSHOP FORMAT

The workshop will begin in the morning with a seminar by Professor Lois McNay (Somerville College Oxford), author of Against Recognition, Gender and Agency:Reconfiguring the Subject in Feminist and Social Theory. and Foucault and Feminism: Power, Gender and the Self. We are particularly keen to receive papers which address Professor McNay's work on agency and recognition in some respect.

The seminar will be followed by two sessions in which the participants will present and discuss one another's papers. We plan to restrict participation to a small number group; 6 to 8 at most. We are investigating the possibility that some of the papers will be published after the workshop.

We are in a position to offer a modest grant to participants in the workshop which should cover most if not all of the cost to participants of economy transport to Cork from elsewhere in Ireland, the UK or mainland Europe. We will also provide one night's accommodation in Cork and meals and refreshments on September 9. There is no additional fee for participation.

The workshop is run in conjunction with a one-day international conference 'Gendering the Boundaries of Membership', which will take place in University College Cork on September 10. The conference will feature presentations by a number of prominent scholars working in the area of gender and multiculturalism. Confirmed speakers include Anne Phillips (LSE), Audrey Macklin (University of Toronto), Betty de Hart (Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen) and Maleiha Malik (King's College London). Workshop participants will be welcome to attend the conference free of charge (some meals will be provided on the day).

All queries should be addressed to corkworkshop2010@gmail.com

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Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Criminal Justice developments January 2010

The following is a found up of criminal justice news from January 2010. The material was first published in the January Edition of Firstlaw's Criminal Law Online Service.
The month of January was relatively quiet from a criminal justice perspective. Two stories in particular dominated the news, namely the number of homicides that have bloodied the month and the Eamonn Lillis trial. However additional stories of interest were the release of CSO crime statistics for 2009 and the publication by the Minister for Justice of the Criminal Justice (Forensic Evidence and DNA Database) Bill 2010.
The Lillis trial was interesting for a number of reasons, not least of which was the showcasing of the facilities in the new Criminal Courts of Justice complex. More members of the public were able to hear and see the court proceedings through the use of videolink to an overflow room. Videolink was also used to allow Mr. Lillis’s 17-year old daughter to testify, and Jean Treacy was protected from the media scrum by being allowed to use an underground entrance to and exit from the courts. Her use of the underground entrance attracted media claims that their “right” to be able to photograph witnesses in order to safeguard the interests of justice had been compromised. Yet the case of Re. R. Ltd is clear that “the [constitutional requirement to] administ[er] justice in public [simply] require[s] that the doors of the court must be open so that members of the general public may come and see for themselves that justice is done.” As such, images of witnesses or the accused being lead to the courtroom add nothing to the administration of justice and seem to be valuable exclusively as a means of selling papers. The media frenzy that ensued in the race to find an image of Ms. Treacy confirms this. Moreover, when he sentenced Mr. Lillis, Mr. Justice White criticised the media “scrum” that the Lillis and Cawley families had to endure on their entrance to and exit from the courts complex as “an affront to human dignity.” He also noted that one of the reasons Mr. Lillis received a seven-year sentence rather than a ten-year one was because of the intense media scrutiny the case received. It could therefore be argued that the media have in fact promoted their self-interest at the expense of the interests of justice.

The granting of the use of the underground entrance to one prosecution witness only raises other issues. It was suggested by the Minister of Justice that Ms. Treacy had been allowed to avail of the underground entrance in order to ensure her co-operation as a witness. Why this same privilege was not afforded to other witnesses or to the accused should be questioned. In light of the availability of the underground entrance, and remembering the Court of Criminal Appeal’s criticism of the practice of photographing the accused in the 2002 case of DPP v. Davis, it is worth considering whether this protection should become standard practice in all criminal trials. Michael O'Higgins SC, while critical of the use of the facility, noted that a precedent had now been set and that in future “it would have to be available to both sides in a case.” Alternatively, as some moderate voices in the media have suggested, it might be worth establishing a code of practice on the use of this facility so as to avoid preferential treatment being given to some witnesses over others.

The trial is also notable for the manner in which the jury returned their verdict. When they found Mr. Lillis guilty of manslaughter they explained that they felt that the State had not proved intent to kill or cause serious injury. What is remarkable is that this should be remarkable. Justice White thanked the jury for alerting him to their reasoning and noted that it would assist him when he sentenced Mr. Lillis. Arguably this information should always be provided to the judge to ensure that the jury’s verdict is given effect. Moreover it would be desirable if, as in the Lillis case, when there are three potential reasons for rendering a manslaughter verdict (gross negligence homicide, excessive self-defence or provocation) that the jury should identify which one they based their verdict on. There is a significant distinction in terms of culpability between these various categories of manslaughter and this distinction should be reflected in sentencing. The judge is unable to do this if the jury do not provide this information. In this case, it is clear that the jury rejected provocation as the basis for their manslaughter verdict, but it is not clear which of the other two categories was determinative. It is worth noting as an aside that there is a case currently before the European Court of Human Rights, Taxquet v. Belgium, on the issue of jury trials and whether their failure to provide reasons for their decisions impedes the accused’s right to a fair trial. The outcome of this case will be awaited with interest.

The relatively high number of reported homicides in the month of January has also been the subject of considerable media attention. In one weekend in January there were three gangland shootings in Dublin, followed by a fourth shooting the following weekend. A week later there was a fatal shooting in Cork with gangland/paramilitary links. There were also a number of non-gangland related killings. A former Defence Forces member was stabbed to death in Dublin after he complained about noise coming from a party and another man was stabbed in Tipperary following an altercation outside his home. A woman was found stabbed to death near the residence of the man believed to be implicated in her death with whom she was involved in a relationship. The death of a 10-day old infant in Meath was also being treated by the Gardaí as a murder. Nine killings in one month is not an auspicious start to the new-year. Predictably the gangland killings in particular led to warnings about a “surge in gangland crime” and criticism by Fine Gael of the government’s failure to provide sufficient resources to give effect to the gangland legislation introduced last year. However it is worth noting that while five of the nine killings were gangland related, increased resources for gangland crime or indeed ordinary crime would have had no impact on the remaining four deaths. Similarly, while there was an increase in the number of murders last year, generally speaking the homicide rate is falling and the murder rate is relatively steady. In 2009 a total of 80 homicide cases were recorded, 53 of which were murders. This represents a significant drop from 138 homicides/62 murders in 2006 or 132 homicides/77 murders in 2007. In 2008 there were 89 homicides/50 murders. Accordingly we are not in the midst of a national epidemic in relation to either homicide generally or murder specifically.

The CSO statistics for 2009 do show a significant rise in the number of burglaries (up 9%) and robberies (up 33.5%). This rise is predictable in a recession period given the general view that economic crimes tend to increase when legitimate avenues of obtaining revenue decrease. The 2009 statistics however also reveal an unexpected benefit of the recession, namely the decrease in drug (down 6%) and public order offences (down 8%). It is arguable that when there is less disposable income there is less money to spend on excessive consumption of alcohol (a key element in public order offences) or on drug use. In relation to crime generally it was found that overall the level of reported crime dropped by 5% last year but that the levels for a number of serious offences, including murder (up 6%) and rape (up 10%), increased.

Finally, the Minister of Justice published the Criminal Justice (Forensic Evidence and DNA Database System) Bill 2010 in January. The proposed legislation would introduce a national DNA database to hold samples of those arrested for certain criminal offences. The Bill was lauded by the Ministry as “major step forward in the fight against serious crime” giving the Gardaí “access to intelligence on a scale and of a quality that has never before been available in this country”. The proposed powers include the ability to require a sample from anyone arrested for a violent crime. The DNA profile generated from that sample would then be placed on the database as would any sample collected from a crime scene. At the same time the legislation would, upon coming into force, require samples from anyone serving a sentence for a serious offence. The Minister stated that his desire was that “a significant proportion of the criminal community” would have their samples stored on the database and that this would “of itself, act as a deterrent for some.”

The Minister was quick to point out that the drafting of the legislation took account of the recent European Court of Human Rights decision of S and Marper v. UK in which the Court held that the indefinite retention of DNA samples, profiles and fingerprints taken from persons who are not charged or who are acquitted infringed the ECHR’s privacy provisions. As a result the Bill provides that the only samples to be stored indefinitely would be those taken from people convicted of a serious offence. Other samples would be held for three years and profiles for ten years, subject to the right of the person to apply to have their materials removed from the database. However the draft legislation has already drawn criticism from a number of sources including the data protection commissioner who stated that profiles of those not convicted of any offence should in fact be destroyed immediately.

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