Home Defence Proposals Skate on Thin Ice says rights watchdog

  • 20-10-2010
  • Categorized in: Justice

Press Release, for immediate release  

Wednesday, 20 October 2010 


Ireland’s leading rights watchdog, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL), has said that the Government’s new Home Defence Bill raises human rights issues that must be addressed before it becomes law.


The rights body’s comments came as it released its submission on the Criminal Justice (Defence and the Dwelling) Bill 2010 due for debate in the Dáil this afternoon (20 October 2010).


ICCL Director Mr Mark Kelly said:


“The ICCL welcomes those aspects of the Home Defence Bill that codify the law as it stands.  However, some of Minister Ahern’s proposals seek to extend the law in a way that raises human rights concerns.  The suggested test for the use of lethal force does not meet international human rights standards and the right to protect property is allowed to trump the right to life.  Unless the Bill is amended before it becomes law, the Government will find itself skating on thin ice with the European Court of Human Rights.”


“The ICCL is also calling upon the Minister for Justice and Law Reform and/or the Director of Public Prosecutions to draw up plain language guidance for members of the public once this Bill becomes law. This could reassure people about their legitimate rights when defending themselves and their families, without wrongly encouraging them to believe that the legislature has granted them a licence to kill” Mr Kelly concluded.


Note to editors:


The Criminal Justice (Defence and the Dwelling) Bill 2010 is due for debate in the Dáil today (20 October 2010).  In its submission on the human rights compliance of the Bill, the ICCL recommends that it be amended as follows:


-              include a stronger proportionality test, in a similar vein to that proposed by the Law Reform Commission in its 2009 Report on Defences in Criminal Law;

-              include a test of absolute necessity before fatal force can be justified, in line with Ireland’s obligations under Article 2 (right to life) of the European Convention on Human Rights, and,

-              remove the defence of property as a legitimate reason for the use of fatal force.

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