Criminal Justice System Review Report: Press Release, 30 March 2000
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Press Release issued by the Northern Ireland Office on the publication of the report of the Criminal Justice System Review, 30 March 2000
The Secretary of State, Mr Peter Mandelson, MP, today welcomed the report on the Review of the Criminal Justice System in Northern Ireland, describing it as "a major contribution to the debate on criminal justice issues in Northern Ireland."
The report, which contains almost 300 recommendations, has been published by the Review Group set up under the Good Friday Agreement.
Commenting on the report Mr Mandelson, MP said:
"Publication of the report takes forward an important part of the Good Friday Agreement. The report is wide ranging, dealing with all aspects of the criminal justice system in Northern Ireland except policing and emergency legislation.
"I am grateful to the members of the review group who have undertaken this immense task with diligence, thoroughness and skill.
"A number of key principles have underpinned the work of the Review Group. For example, their recommendations demonstrate a commitment to maintaining human rights, to ensuring that the criminal justice system is open and accountable, protecting the independence of the judiciary and the prosecution, and ensuring that merit must continue to be the key criterion in determining judicial appointments. The Government supports these principles on which the group's recommendations are based.
"As to the recommendations themselves, there are nearly 300 of these dealing with all aspects of the criminal justice system. They require to be very carefully considered in the light of the explanations and arguments set out in the report.
"In accordance with the Good Friday Agreement, the Government will now consult with the political parties and the Irish Government.
"I would also like to take the views of members of the public and those working in the criminal justice system.
"I am therefore initiating a consultation period of six months, and the Government will keep an open mind on the proposals until this period of consultation has been completed. In determining its approach to the detailed recommendations, the Government will take full account of the views expressed during this period of consultation.
"The report is clearly a major contribution to the debate on criminal justice issues in Northern Ireland. It requires to be considered with great care and attention."
NOTES TO EDITORS
The group, which reports today, was set up under the Good Friday Agreement. The Agreement provided for a "wide-ranging review of criminal justice (other than policing and those aspects of the system relating to emergency legislation) to be carried out by the British government through a mechanism with an independent element, in consultation with the political parties and others". The group is made up of senior civil servants, representing the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, the Lord Chancellor, and the Attorney General, and a number of independent assessors who are expert in criminal justice matters and who formed the independent element required by the Agreement.
The group began its work in June 1998. Since then it has had over 70 meetings with interested groups, organisations and individuals and received around 100 written submissions. It was also involved in a series of seminars held throughout Northern Ireland during the spring of 1999. In addition, the group undertook an extensive programme of research including surveys, focus groups and study visits to other jurisdictions. Eighteen research reports are published alongside the main report.
The group has also produced a short guide to its report. The guide, which is intended to complement the report rather than summarise it, looks at each of the chapters of the report, explains why the group thought it important to consider the issues covered in them, and sets out the main recommendations.
Copies of the report, the research reports and the guide can be obtained from the Stationery Office Bookshops; on the internet at http://www.nio.gov.uk and at http://www.hmso.gov.uk or by contacting the
Criminal Justice Review Secretariat,
Individuals or organisations wishing to comment on the Criminal Justice Review report should send these to the Secretary, Criminal Justice Review Secretariat, no later than Friday 29 September. The Government may be asked to publish the responses to this consultation. Those who want their comments to remain confidential should indicate this clearly on their replies.
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