éirígí welcomes CAJ report on PSNI stop and search

January 14, 2013

The publication of a report by the Committee for the Administration of Justice (CAJ) criticising the use and misuse of ‘stop and search’ measures by the PSNI has been welcomed by the socialist republican party, éirígí

The report, completed in November last year and entitled ‘Still Part Of Life Here?’ was made publicly available on Thursday January 10th .

CAJ, the leading independent human rights organisation in Northern Ireland, lobbies and campaigns on human rights issues both in Northern Ireland and internationally.

The CAJ report points out that while stop and search powers are routinely used by police services across the world, the usual threshold in domestic law in most countries for determining whether police have a good reason to target a person for search is that of ‘reasonable suspicion’ in relation to the individual.

However, the CAJ report goes on to state that, in Northern Ireland, there are ‘emergency-type’ powers that do not require that threshold to be met, namely search powers under the Terrorism Act 2000 (TACT) and search and question powers under the Justice and Security (NI) Act 2007 (JSA).

Commenting on this latest report, Padraic Mac Coitir, a spokesperson for éirígí, said, “This report by CAJ is to be welcomed. CAJ has a long history of lobbying and campaigning on a broad range of human rights issues.

“This latest CAJ report reflects the experiences of many people in the Six Counties. It is an indisputable fact that the PSNI have carried out almost 200,000 stop and search operation since the two constitutional nationalist parties at Stormont gave their political support to that force.

“In many respects, this report validates the decision taken last year by éirígí to initiate and launch our ‘know your rights’ campaign both in relation to Six County policing and MI5.

“At the same, this CAJ report also raises questions for those constitutional nationalist parties as it is very obvious that various safeguards and protections which those parties claim to have secured are very clearly ineffective, unworkable and virtually non-existent.”

Mac Coitir ended by saying, “Some of the conclusions which CAJ reach in the final section of their report will come as no surprise to many people. Equally, those conclusions will not provide comfortable reading for those who have politically supported and endorsed the PSNI.

“By referencing other previous reports published by CAJ in 1994 and 2008, the human rights’ body is quite specific in its conclusions when it states: ‘What is particularly striking is the similarity of many of the concerns documented in previous research to many of the issues being raised with us today. There are also correlations between many of the past deficiencies in the legal, policy and institutional framework, and those manifesting themselves now…’