The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Mr. Michael McDowell, T.D., today announced Government approval to draft the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill.
The purpose of the Bill is twofold:-
(1) to provide for miscellaneous, mainly technical, changes to the criminal law in relation to a number of statutes. These changes relate to the following:
- provision for the extension of the current three day limit whereby a judge must refer a matter by way of 'case stated' to a superior Court, in situations where either party to proceedings, if dissatisfied with the determination seeks to do so on a point of law;
- provision for a presumption of continuity of evidence in relation to secure storage of audio / video recordings;
- provisions to ensure that Garda Technical Bureau staff may not have to attend court to prove the chain of evidence for certain exhibits. A completed statement signed by a Technical Bureau Officer in relation to the exhibit in question may be sufficient evidence in Court;
- the definition of harassment in section 10 of the Non-Fatal Offences Act 1997;
- allowing for the separation of juries during trials. The Bill will provide an amendment to the Juries Act 1976 in order that a jury may separate, if the Judge thinks it appropriate, after they have been directed to consider their verdict. Currently a jury cannot separate when considering their verdict even if a Judge considers it appropriate to do so;
- minor amendments to the Criminal Justice Act 1994, the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences Act) 2001 and the Standards in Public Office Act 2001 regarding the time frame in which cases can be pursued; and
- technical amendments to the European Arrest Warrant Act 2003 arising from experience of the operation of the provisions of the Act.
(2) to give legislative effect to a number of international instruments including:-
- Article 15 of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime (the 'UNTOC') relates to the establishment of jurisdiction over money laundering offences committed outside the territory of the State in certain circumstances;
- the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime 2001;
- the Framework Decision on Combating Corruption in the Private Sector;
- OECD recommendations relating to Ireland's obligations arising from the Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions;
- Article 27 of the Schengen Agreement, the Directive and Framework Decision on the facilitation of illegal entry, transit and residence and the Protocol on Smuggling of Migrants to the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organised Crime (the 'UNTOC'); and
- operation of the Schengen Information System in Ireland.
The Minister said, "The enactment of this Bill will allow for the more effective and efficient operation of our criminal justice system and will enable Ireland to play its part in developing a common approach to combat crime at an international level."
15 August 2006
Note to Editors
United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime
Article 15 of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime requires signatories to establish their jurisdiction over certain offences, including money laundering, when the offence is committed in the territory of the State or outside it when it was committed on a vessel or aircraft registered to that State.
Such provisions were included in the Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) Act 2005 in relation to terrorist financing and this amendment will provide for consistency in relation to measures against money laundering and terrorist financing. The provision will be modelled on the provision in the Terrorist Offences Act.
Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime
The Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime is the first international treaty dealing with criminal offences committed by means of, or against, computer networks, in particular infringement of copyright, child pornography, network security and computer-related fraud. The Convention's main aim is to pursue 'a common criminal approach aimed at the protection of society against cybercrime, inter alia, by adopting appropriate legislation and fostering international co-operation.'
Framework Decision on Combating Corruption in the Private Sector
The Framework Decision on Combating Corruption in the Private Sector was adopted in July 2003. Ireland's anti corruption legislation currently has extensive measures which largely comply with the requirements of this Framework Decision. This Bill will provide the opportunity to deal with the outstanding issues.
OECD Working Party on Bribery
An OECD Working Party on Bribery evaluated Ireland in June 2002 on implementation of the Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions. A number of recommendations were made by the Working Party in relation to the legislation which will be included in the Bill.
Schengen Agreement, the Directive and Framework Decision on the facilitation of illegal entry, transit and residence and the Protocol on Smuggling of Migrants to the 'UNTOC'
The final international aspect contained in the Bill relates to the implementation of Article 27 of the Schengen Agreement, the Directive and Framework Decision on the facilitation of illegal entry, transit and residence and the Protocol on Smuggling of Migrants to the 'UNTOC'. It is necessary in order that the existing offence be expanded to make it an offence to facilitate illegal transit through, and residence in the State. This Part of the Bill also contains provisions which are largely procedural in nature to facilitate the operation in Ireland of the Schengen Information System.