Wednesday, 9 October 2019
Criminal Justice (Mutual Recognition of Decisions on Supervision Measures) Bill 2019: Committee and Remaining Stages
I thank the Seanad for supporting this Bill.
The primary purpose of the legislation is to give effect to provisions of the EU Council Framework Decision 2009/829/JHA on the cross-border recognition of decisions on supervision measures as an alternative to provisional detention. While the Bill is complex in drafting, it has a simple purpose, namely, to enable a person who is the subject of the supervision decision in one EU member state but who lives in another to return home to continue his or her supervision there. The Bill’s proposal would protect the rights of accused persons who face charges in other member states while ensuring victims and communities are protected through the enforcement of supervision measures. This will allow a supervised person to maintain ties with family and continue employment or education while awaiting trial.
It is worth noting the Bill is based on consent. A person cannot be transferred from one country to another without his or her consent. The legislation will not affect many people. However, for those that it will affect, it will have a significant impact on their lives. For that reason, it is important legislation. I thank Members for supporting it.
I thank all Members for their co-operation in passing this Bill. Another group of people who will be positively affected by this legislation will be the families of the perpetrators who are victims themselves to a large extent. This is particularly the case where the loved ones of a perpetrator may be living in another country and are not in a position to visit the person they love.This Bill certainly will give due recognition to that, and also people in this country who have loved ones abroad and wish to serve their sentences abroad. As the Minister of State said, it is giving effect to an EU directive. While it is complex in nature, it is simple in terms of what it is trying to achieve. It is a good Bill. I thank the Minister of State, Deputy Stanton, for bringing it before us and thank the House for passing it.
I am speaking on behalf of our justice spokesperson. The Minister of State will know that Sinn Féin supported this legislation, which will have the effect of allowing an Irish resident who is sentenced to a period of probation while temporarily in another member state of the EU to return home and be supervised by the Irish probation service. It is a prudent measure that makes sense for many people under probation and for their families.
I have been asked to add one issue which is very relevant in the context of the Minister of State's espousal of the principles of the Bill. It is the case of two US army veterans who have been unable to travel home to New York to their families for the past six months. They have been awaiting trial for non-violent action at Shannon Airport in the west of Ireland on St. Patrick's Day. The two men were arrested at Shannon on 17 March and were tried in respect of an Omni Air International aircraft which was on its way to Kuwait. The veterans believed it was carrying US troops and weapons in violation of international law. They have been charged with trespassing and causing €2,500 worth of criminal damage to the perimeter fence of the airport and have had their passports taken away as part of their bail conditions. While I recognise that the Minister of State cannot interfere in the administration of justice in the courts, I refer to his claim that accused persons ought not suffer a disproportionate interference in their life in facing trial and his statement that he is in favour of proposals to allow an accused person to maintain ties with family and continue employment or education in his or her home country while awaiting trial in the case of EU citizens. I would welcome if the Minister of State would take the cases of Mr. Mayers and Mr. Kauff under his consideration for future legislation in this area.