Informant laws need 'reform'
on 24/08/2013 00:00:00
In a book analysing legal responses to organised crime in Ireland and the UK, the Edinburgh University academic said there had been a "fundamental" shift in Irish law in response to various crises in gangland.
Dr Campbell said laws that were supposed to have been "emergency" provisions to deal with terrorism had become "permanent" laws that also deal with organised crime cases.
The Cork native said the raft of laws introduced here have "tested and sometimes compromised" key rights of due process.
She did not call for the measures to be withdrawn, instead arguing for them to be "tweaked" and brought into line with traditional legal norms.
Dr Campbell, who completed her studies up to doctorate level at University College Cork, said there were "unquestionable difficulties" in investigating and prosecuting organised crime and that the threat posed to witnesses, jurors, and the administration of justice was "a real one".
In her book, Organised Crime and the Law, Dr Campbell said Ireland "definitely" needs to introduce laws to govern the covert human intelligence source (CHIS) system, saying the Garda code was not enough.
"While the Garda code is claimed to be 'in line with best international practice', the lack of legislation in Ireland is worrying from a due process perspective and is unlikely to be compliant with the requirements of the [European Convention of Human Rights]," she said.
She said covert policing may entail officers "skirting close to, or even breaching, the limits of legality", which could compromise legitimacy of policing, particularly where an agent participates or encourages criminality.
Dr Campbell's concerns on CHIS follow strong criticism of the system by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission.
Dr Campbell also claimed the Witness Protection Programme lacked a legislative basis that "arguably contravenes" Council of Europe recommendations.
She said "a lot of countries are grappling" with such programmes, but that Ireland needed "clearer rules".
She said if the system was not run properly there was an increased chance it could jeopardise prosecutions or result in appeals.
Dr Campbell said the Supreme Court, and not the DPP, should decide when the Special Criminal Court should be used.