The Trial of Organized Crime in the UK and Ireland: The Terrorist Legacy
Posted: 14 Dec 2011
Date Written: December 13, 2011
The phenomenon of organized crime is conceived of in political rhetoric in the UK and Ireland as constituting an emergency which warrants extraordinary reactions. Thus, the corpus of law used to address subversive crime due to the political situation in Northern Ireland has provided a prototype, in form and in substance, for dealing with organized crime, ranging from extended detention periods, the use of anonymous witnesses and the civil forfeiture of assets. This is either through the direct use of anti-terrorist legislation which has been framed sufficiently broadly as to permit application to a broader range of suspected criminality, or through the subsequent imitation of such statutes. One particular response to organized crime, which will be focused on in this paper, has been to hold non-jury trials where there is a risk of jury intimidation. In Ireland, this occurs through the direct use of pre-existing anti-terrorist legislation, while in the UK (though not in Scotland) contemporary legislation has been introduced. Though ostensibly comparable in substance, whether the state employs pre-existing anti-terrorist legislation or constructs new, albeit imitative, laws is critical, as this may determine the ability of the Courts to constrain the application and scope of such provisions. While Ireland’s written constitution and its Supreme Court generally provide a more robust protection of due process rights than its neighboring counterparts, the location of such trials in the emergency framework allows this usual judicial bulwark to be circumvented.
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