UN Human Rights Committee, Concluding Observations: the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (2001) (excerpts)

UN Human Rights Committee, Concluding Observations: the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (2001) (excerpts)

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18. The Committee remains concerned that, despite improvements in the security situation in Northern Ireland, some elements of criminal procedure continue to differ between Northern Ireland and the remainder of the State party’s jurisdiction. In particular, the Committee is troubled that, under the so-called “Diplock court” system in Northern Ireland, persons charged with certain “scheduled offences” are subject to a different regime of criminal procedure, including the absence of a jury. That modified procedure applies unless the Attorney-General certifies, without having to justify or explain, that the offence is not to be treated as a scheduled offence. The Committee recalls its interpretation of the Covenant as requiring that objective and reasonable grounds be provided by the appropriate prosecution authorities to justify the application of different criminal procedure in particular cases.
The State party should carefully monitor, on an ongoing basis, whether the exigencies of the specific situation in Northern Ireland continue to justify any such distinctions. In particular, it should ensure that, in each case where a person is subjected to the “Diplock” jurisdiction, objective and reasonable grounds are provided and that this requirement is incorporated in the relevant legislation (including the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1996).