International War Crimes Tribunals Bill, 1997: Committee and Remaining Stages.

Wednesday, 4 November 1998

Seanad Éireann Debate
Vol. 156 No. 17

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Sections 1 to 8, inclusive, agreed to.

SECTION 9.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello Zoom on Joe Costello I move amendment No. 1:

In page 8, line 25, after “made,” to insert “and upon the Court being satisfied that such certificate has been presented in accordance with this Act,”.

I welcome the Minister to the House. I welcome the Bill which will facilitate this country in fulfilling its obligation to co-operate with international [1333] tribunals in relation to in particular the genocide which has taken place in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia and to make sure that the people who are responsible for mass killings do not go unsanctioned, that they can be extradited to face trial and that they can be properly punished.

Amendment No. 1 seeks to improve the Bill with a view to ensuring its constitutionality. It states that the Minister shall produce a certificate but that it shall be “upon the Court being satisfied that such certificate has been presented in accordance with this Act”.

The danger in the section is that the Minister would compel the court on production of the certificate to make an arrest order and that would be effectively shifting the power from the court to the Minister — the Minister would be compelling the court in that respect. That would involve a mixing of functions. It would be proper in legal and constitutional terms to allow for the court to be satisfied that such a certificate supplied by the Minister is in fact in accordance with the Act. The point is quite simple. That particular discretion being retained by the court in respect of the Minister's certificate would ensure that the constitutionality of this section would be respected and that there would be no question of legal action which might in fact overturn the Minister's certificate.

I ask the Minister to seriously consider this amendment.

Mr. Connor: Information on John Connor Zoom on John Connor I second the amendment.

Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. O'Donoghue): Information on John O'Donoghue Zoom on John O'Donoghue Under section 9, the High Court before issuing an arrest warrant would clearly require to be satisfied that the certificate in the words of the amendment had been “presented in accordance with the Act”. The amendment proposed is of a drafting nature. I have consulted with the parliamentary draftsman's office and it has advised that the amendment is not necessary. Accordingly, the amendment is opposed.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello Zoom on Joe Costello Will the Minister elaborate further on why his parliamentary draftsman advised that the amendment would not be necessary?

Mr. O'Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue Zoom on John O'Donoghue The clear meaning of Senator Costello's amendment is that the court would require to be satisfied that the certificate had been presented in accordance with the Act. The amendment is of a drafting nature. I assume, without meaning to put words into the parliamentary draftsman's mouth, that he took it that the position as it stood implemented the intent of the Senator's amendment and, in those circumstances, felt that there was no necessity to make the amendment.

Amendment put and declared lost.

Section 9 agreed to.

[1334] Section 10 agreed to.

SECTION 11.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Brian Mullooly Zoom on Brian Mullooly Amendment No. 3 is cognate on amendment No. 2. Therefore, amendments Nos. 2 and 3 may be discussed together by agreement. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello Zoom on Joe Costello I move amendment No. 2:

In page 9, subsection (3), line 43, to delete “Minister” and substitute “High Court”.

I propose in these amendments to delete “Minister” and substitute “High Court” in both cases. Again the principle is the same. Section 11(3) states that the Minister may, by order, cancel the provisional arrest warrant and my amendment states that any arrest should be by order of the court. It would be wrong for a Minister to cancel a court order; it should revert back to the court. The issuing of a cancellation order should be the entitlement of the court.

Once again the Minister is intervening in what I consider to be the proper domain of the court. To ensure that the legislation is in order and that it is not subject to being questioned or taken further by means of appeal, it would be proper for the High Court to replace the Minister in both cases.

Mr. Connor: Information on John Connor Zoom on John Connor I agree with the points made by Senator Costello. It is important that we maintain the separation of powers. These issues in relation to arrests should be matters for the court. In relation to warrants and matters of that kind, the Minister should not have a role. For that reason, given the need to protect the principle of the separation of powers, the powers of the courts are the powers of the court and that should be clearly seen. The powers of the Minister in other matters, of course, should be clearly seen also. It is an important principle.

Mr. O'Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue Zoom on John O'Donoghue The framing of section 11(3) follows the precedent established in the Extradition Act, 1965. As I explained on Second Stage on 14 October, this Bill has been modelled closely on Ireland's general extradition legislation. Section 27(5) of the 1965 Act provides that where the judge issues a warrant for the provisional arrest of a person, he shall inform the Minister who may, if he thinks fit, order the warrant to be cancelled and the person arrested under it to be released. This is pursuant to the Minister's general power to refuse extradition and to release a person from custody contained in section 35 of the 1965 Act. The power given to the Minister in section 11(3) of the Bill follows from the general power to release given to the Minister in section 22. The reason the power is given to the Minister is so that action to set a person free or to prevent him or her being arrested can be taken immediately such action becomes necessary, for example, [1335] if the Minister is informed by the international tribunal that it is no longer interested in the individual and will not pursue a request for his or her surrender. The proposed amendments, therefore, are opposed.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello Zoom on Joe Costello I accept that the provision is included in the 1965 Act but that does not make it a desirable provision. My view is the opposite to that of the Minister. The 1965 Act should be amended to ensure that we do not have questionable law. We should not extend this power, which is effectively a power reserved to the High Court under the Constitution, to the Minister. The Minister might consider that aspect.

Mr. O'Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue Zoom on John O'Donoghue There is little more I can add to my response. The issue is what one believes to be the appropriate response in the event of the type of situation which I have outlined arising. In my view, it should be a matter for the Minister of the day. That is the position under our extradition law, which has been tried and tested on many occasions in the courts. It is appropriate and correct to follow that precedent in this instance. Since the procedure has been tested over a long period of time, it can be considered reliable.

Question, “That the words proposed to be deleted stand”, put and declared carried.

Amendment declared lost.

Amendment No. 3 not moved.

Question proposed: “That section 11 stand part of the Bill.”

Mr. Mooney: Information on Paschal Canice Mooney Zoom on Paschal Canice Mooney Has the international tribunal issued any warrants or has it indicated that it intends to issue warrants under this legislation? Given Ireland's strong relationship with African countries over many decades, have any alleged perpetrators of the horrendous crimes in Rwanda visited this country or are any resident in this country? Such individuals are probably more likely to access this country than those responsible for human rights violations in the former Yugoslavia.

The Minister will be aware of the controversy in the United Kingdom over the past few years about Nazi war criminals. The House of Commons passed specific legislation to pursue war criminals in the UK who had arrived there incognito following the end of the Second World War. This legislation does not cover criminal acts which took place during that war. Is the Department aware of any people resident in this country who are believed to have been involved in international war crimes?

Mr. O'Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue Zoom on John O'Donoghue There has been no formal application to the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform for the arrest of any such person.

[1336] Question put and agreed to.

Sections 12 and 13 agreed to.

SECTION 14.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello Zoom on Joe Costello I move amendment No. 4:

In page 10, subsection (1), line 42, to delete “shall” and substitute “may”.

Once the warrant is issued the High Court should not be compelled to impose a prison sanction automatically. There should be discretion to allow a person to apply for bail. The provision, however, states that an order “shall” be made by the High Court to commit the person to prison. There should be an element of discretion for the court to decide whether a person should be allowed to apply for bail and to hear the arguments on behalf of that application. That is the normal procedure.

Acceptance of the amendment would protect the legislation against legal actions. It appears to be a reasonable discretion to accord the court.

Mr. Connor: Information on John Connor Zoom on John Connor I second the amendment.

Mr. O'Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue Zoom on John O'Donoghue Section 14 deals with the situation where the High Court is satisfied that the conditions justifying surrender of the person sought by the international tribunal have been complied with. Once that happens we are obliged by the statute of the tribunal to carry through the surrender of the person unless there is a reason to invoke section 22. For that purpose, as in an ordinary extradition case, he or she must be committed to prison to await surrender.

This is a drafting matter. The parliamentary draftsman has confirmed that the word “shall” is the appropriate word to give expression to the obligation imposed by the statute of the tribunal. As in an ordinary extradition case, on making the committal order the High Court will inform the person of the provisions of Article 40.4.2 of the Constitution and that he or she will not be surrendered except with his or her consent until 15 days have passed.

The amendment is opposed.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello Zoom on Joe Costello This provision arises from section 9 which provides that the High Court will issue a certificate directing that an arrest take place. The section does not state what action will be taken later.

Section 14 provides that the High Court shall make an order committing that person to prison. While the court might believe that a certificate should be issued to have the person arrested, the court should also be allowed to have the person come before it. At that point the court should have discretion to decide what the appropriate action would be rather than the legislation simply providing for only one appropriate action.

The right to bail is enshrined in the Constitution and in law. This is an issue of personal liberty [1337] and there is no reason the discretion I mention should not be included in this section. It may be that in 99 per cent of cases the people concerned would be committed to prison. However, is there a reason to exclude the possibility of an application for bail?

Mr. O'Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue Zoom on John O'Donoghue The obligation arises under the statute of the tribunal. It is not a discretionary matter but an imperative. That is the reason for the terminology in the section. It is the language one might use in a command context. The imperative nature of the position is expressed by the word “shall”. I do not see how there could be discretion in the matter given the statute of the tribunal.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello Zoom on Joe Costello I accept what the Minister has said. For clarification purposes, is he saying that the enactment of this legislation is dependent on our accepting that there is an imperative under the statute of the tribunal that we include an absolute commitment to this form of action without the possibility of any discretion being allowed?

Mr. O'Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue Zoom on John O'Donoghue To clarify the matter, as I outlined in my original reply, there is a provision pursuant to Article 40 of the Constitution to cover the type of situation envisaged by Senator Costello; it would be open to an individual to make such an application pursuant to Article 40 of the Constitution. In an ordinary extradition case of making the committal order in the first instance, the High Court would advise the person concerned of the provisions of Article 40. That, too, would cover the situation in relation to certain bail matters. The Constitution provides a safeguard in this regard; therefore, the doomsday scenario envisaged by Senator Costello would not arise.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello Zoom on Joe Costello The Minister's reply raises a further question. If, having been arrested, one comes before the courts and is informed by the High Court of the provisions in Article 40, the legislation effectively prevents Article 40 from operating because it makes provision for one course of action, namely, imprisonment. Surely the person who is arrested would seek to use Article 40 to challenge the action taken by the court in immediately committing them to prison. The legislation as it stands almost overtly invites challenge.

Mr. O'Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue Zoom on John O'Donoghue I do not accept that. I have explained that the statute of the tribunal demands that the language inserted in the legislation be used. All legislation, irrespective of what language is used, is subject to interpretation and challenge in the courts. The fact that one may challenge the order of the court pursuant to Article 40 is an adequate safeguard. There would be a difficulty if Article 40 did not exist, but we are fortunate to have a good Constitution. It is the [1338] right of any citizen to challenge his or her committal under the appropriate Article of the Constitution. In the circumstances, I do not see the difficulty envisaged by Senator Costello.

Question, “That the words proposed to be deleted stand”, put and declared carried.

Amendment declared lost.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello Zoom on Joe Costello I move amendment No. 5:

In page 10, subsection (1), line 42, after “subsection (2)” to insert “and section 15”.

Section 15 is an extension of what we were discussing, namely, that the court should exercise all its powers of adjournment and remand in relation to anyone brought before it under the Act. This emphasises the right to bail and the section should be included to emphasise the importance of allowing the High Court the discretion to decide whether one should be committed directly to prison or have the freedom to apply for bail.

Mr. Connor: Information on John Connor Zoom on John Connor Senator Costello has made an important point. We witnessed this happening in London this week in relation to General Pinochet when the court found he was entitled to bail. It is important that this matter be clarified.

Mr. O'Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue Zoom on John O'Donoghue This is a drafting amendment. We consulted with the Office of the Parliamentary Draftsman and were informed that the amendment is unnecessary. Senator Costello mentioned the need to emphasise the right to bail. There is no need to emphasise to the courts the right to bail; the courts understand the law on bail and are aware of the importance of ensuring that no individual is unnecessarily deprived of his liberty. Irish courts are particularly zealous in guarding the freedom of individuals and this has been borne out more than once. The legislation as it stands in no way attempts to under-state the individual's right to bail. It merely states the law as it is intended pursuant to this legislation, recognising always the other laws or weights and measures which complement this legislation. The courts are well aware of these laws and there is no need for the Legislature to be instructive to them in that respect.

Amendment put and declared lost.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Brian Mullooly Zoom on Brian Mullooly Amendments Nos. 7 and 8 are consequential on amendment No. 6 and may be discussed together.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello Zoom on Joe Costello I move amendment No. 6:

In page 11, lines 20 to 22, to delete subsection (5).

The section seeks to limit the right of appeal. Section 14(5) states that no appeal shall be made against an order of the High Court except an appeal on a point of law to the Supreme Court. What we are seeking to amend are areas where [1339] the normal rule of law under the Constitution appears to be diluted. In this case the right of a full blooded appeal to the Supreme Court is being denied. All High Court decisions can be appealed to the Supreme Court except where it is specifically restricted by law. Why then should it be simply restricted by law to a point of law in this legislation? Personal liberty is a very important issue. I cannot understand why someone whose extradition might be sought would not be entitled to the full rigours of the law and the full generosity of the law under the Constitution. The Minister said this is an imperative under the legislation but no matter what any international body considers appropriate, it must abide by the Constitution. Any laws put forward should clearly reflect this as in the case put for the right to bail. I ask the Minister to reconsider that the right of appeal should be a full right of appeal, not simply limited to a point of law.

Mr. O'Donovan: Information on Dennis O'Donovan Zoom on Dennis O'Donovan In existing law under the Extradition Act, 1965, the only appeal when arrested is on a point of law. That seems to have worked reasonably well and in this instance there is an important parallel and precedent. I cannot see the difference between what is in this Bill and what already exists in the Extradition Act, 1965. If a person, having been arrested, has constitutional rights, this legislation does not deprive them of any rights. Consequently, the Bill as drafted should be accepted.

Mr. Connor: Information on John Connor Zoom on John Connor I support the points made by Senator Costello. The right to appeal must be protected. I confess that I have not read the legislation which has been enacted in other parliaments which are party to this agreement but I imagine most of them would have protected the right to appeal in their legislation.

I am a supporter of this legislation. I am waiting to speak about the International Criminal Court and the need to introduce the legislation for that, something for which we have waited 50 years, but with all my enthusiasm for both Bills, I want to ensure that a full right to appeal is recognised for anyone, no matter how heinous their crimes. We must recognise the right for a full and fair trial which includes the right to appeal to the very last resort.

Mr. O'Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue Zoom on John O'Donoghue The amendment proposed to section 14 by the deletion of subsection (5) is opposed. If that amendment fails the proposed amendments to sections 18 and 19 fall as a consequence. The deletion of section 14(5) would, as Senator O'Donovan pointed out, fly in the face of existing extradition practice. Section 29 of the Extradition Act, 1965, provides that no appeal shall lie against the decision of the court committing a person to prison there to await the order of the Minister for his extradition.

In regard to similar orders under section 14 of the Bill, it was decided that, because of the nature [1340] of the international tribunals and the serious issues which could be involved, an appeal on a point of law should be allowed. While an ordinary appeal, however, will not be available to the person who has been committed to await his or her surrender, it will be open to that person to make a complaint under Article 40.4.2 of the Constitution and he or she will have been specifically informed by the High Court of his or her right to make a complaint.

The fact and the possibility of an appeal on a point of law constitutes adequate safeguards for a person. I do not accept that anything more is needed. There are two avenues open to the individual concerned: the avenue of an appeal on a point of law and the avenue of an application pursuant to Article 40.4.2 of the Constitution. Senator O'Donovan has correctly pointed out that this legislation does not infringe in any way people's constitutional rights. In point of fact, it has been said that no legislation can infringe on people's constitutional rights. If that were to be the case the legislation would be held to be unconstitutional and the Constitution is, of course, paramount and would take precedence.

There is an established code of practice in relation to committals under existing extradition law. People do not have the right to appeal to the Supreme Court on a point of law. There is the right pursuant to Article 40.4.2 of the Constitution. This legislation in no way changes the existing position, it repeats it. Extradition law has been tested on many occasions on various points. We are following a tried and trusted procedure which is appropriate and positive.

Amendment put and declared lost.

Section 14 agreed to.

Sections 15 to 17, inclusive, agreed to.

SECTION 18.

Amendment No. 7 not moved.

Section 18 agreed to.

SECTION 19.

Amendment No. 8 not moved.

Section 19 agreed to.

Sections 20 to 29, inclusive, agreed to.

SECTION 30.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello Zoom on Joe Costello I move amendment No. 9:

In page 17, subsection (1), line 2, to delete “Minister” and substitute “Commissioner of the Garda Síochána”.

The amendment attempts to improve the legislation. The authority which the Minister takes upon himself to direct an application to the District [1341] Court for a search warrant be made by a member of the Garda Síochána should be replaced by the Commissioner of the Garda Síochána initiating the request. It is not part of the Minister's function to get involved in such matters. This is the function of the Garda Commissioner and any order to other officers should come from him rather than the Minister intervening and directing someone not below the rank of superintendent. I wonder how that complies with the separation of powers. It seems improper for the Minister to get involved in day to day directing of whom is to carry out certain instructions. That should be left to the normal line of authority within the Garda itself. I would like to know what the Garda has to say about this provision. Would the Garda Síochána be happy for the Minister to take over a role normally exercised by the superior officer, the Garda Commissioner in this case?

Mr. Connor: Information on John Connor Zoom on John Connor I support this amendment. It is unusual that the Minister should be put in the position to direct that a search warrant be issued. It is for senior officers of the Garda to make direction for such a warrant. I would like to know in what other areas of the law the Minister has this power to make the direction for a search warrant and how often this is exercised.

In relation to the points being made about the right to appeal and the interpretation that there can be an interference with the right to bail, these are fundamental points of one's civil and human rights.

We can never lose sight of the principle that everyone is entitled to a full and fair trial, irrespective of what we think of accused persons who might find themselves under arrest for heinous international war crimes. Political interference in this process is undesirable. This provision smacks of giving unnecessary powers to the Minister. This House makes the law and the Minister oversees his Department. However, matters such as applications for search warrants are for the Garda to decide having satisfied themselves that a search is necessary and seeking the warrant to carry it out. This should not be the function of the Minister.

Mr. O'Donovan: Information on Dennis O'Donovan Zoom on Dennis O'Donovan This is an unusual provision and I can see from where my colleagues are coming. However, article 29 of the Statute of the Former Yugoslavia Tribunal and article 28 of the Statute of the Rwanda Tribunal require states to comply with requests from those tribunals. The obligation is on the State so the duty is on the Government to take up that responsibility and act accordingly. Consequent to that consideration, it would be normal for the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform to make this request. In normal circumstances a senior Garda officer would initiate a search warrant. However, the tribunals already established impose an obligation on the State. The Minister would not like to take this on board but he has no choice as an obligation [1342] is imposed on him. The Bill is appropriate having regard to the tribunal legislation.

Mr. O'Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue Zoom on John O'Donoghue I agree with Senator O'Donovan. The provision that search warrants may be applied for only after a direction from the Minister follows from the fact that it is to the Minister that the international tribunal will address any requests for assistance and co-operation or for the surrender or provisional arrest of persons. It is necessary that the Minister, the representative of the Government on whom the statutes of the tribunal impose the obligation of co-operation with the tribunal, should have a general supervisory role over action taken in aid of the tribunals. If difficulties arise in connection with any requests for assistance from a tribunal, or if there is a need for further information or clarification, it is the Minister who should deal with the tribunals.

This is not a new provision. A similar provision exists in section 55 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1994, which deals with search warrants regarding material sought in connection with investigations arising from criminal proceedings in other states with which we have judicial co-operation agreements. In section 55 of that Act, as in section 30 of the Bill before the House, applications for search warrants can be made only after a direction by the Minister given in response to a request for assistance from a foreign government.

It is important to point out that article 29 of the Statute of the Former Yugoslavia Tribunal and article 28 of the Statute of the Rwanda Tribunal referred to by Senator O'Donovan, require states to comply with requests from the international tribunals for the production of evidence. In effect, the Government has to comply with the request. In those circumstances, it is not only appropriate but necessary that the power be vested in the Minister.

The power is not one to make an order for a search warrant. The power provided in subsection 30(1) is that an application can be made to the District Court following a direction by the Minister. The court makes the order, not the Minister. There is no intention that there would be any form of political interference in the judicial process. On the contrary, it is apparent that the power to make the judicial order is still vested in the courts.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello Zoom on Joe Costello I am not satisfied with the Minister's reply. The request from the international tribunal goes to the Minister and that is appropriate. However, why should the Minister take it upon himself to choose a particular garda to carry out the application for the search warrant? Why should he not transmit the request to the Garda Commissioner and leave the authority with the commissioner who is the appropriate authorised person to deal with all applications for search warrants?

[1343] The Minister referred to provisions in the Criminal Justice Act which are similar to those in the Extradition Act, 1965. This provision does not improve that legislation. We should be seeking to amend these provisions as there is no valid reason a Minister should take it upon himself to select a particular garda to make the application to the High Court for something as important as a search warrant.

Has the Minister any statistics to indicate how many applications for search warrants are refused? I have not heard of any applications being refused by judges. We are dealing with the execution of requests. There is a process and a section of the security forces have been given the authority to act on these matters. I would have thought that the Minister would have been anxious to remain at arm's length from the execution of the request and that once he had received it he would pass it to the appropriate person — the Garda Commissioner — who would deal with the matter.

It is wrong for the Minister to direct a garda to seek a search warrant from the courts. Nothing he has said could change one's view on this matter. It is no good for him to say that he receives the request. It is appropriate that he does so but he should then follow a particular process. He should not get involved in day to day operational matters which come within the remit of the Garda Síochána.

Mr. Connor: Information on John Connor Zoom on John Connor I agree with Senator Costello. The excuse has been made that the Minister has to execute applications from the International War Crimes Tribunal and, hopefully in the future, from the international criminal court. This is not the case. It is appropriate that the Minister receives the applications but he should then pass them on to the institution which deals with these matters. Everyone would recognise that the Minister should not have a direct role beyond that.

I have not read the legislation passed in the House of Commons or the Bundestag. The parliaments of countries which are party to this agreement have had to pass legislation and it would be interesting to read what they had to say on this issue. I am sure we are going far beyond other states in this area.

Mr. O'Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue Zoom on John O'Donoghue The Minister does not have any power beyond that described by Senator Connor. The Minister can direct that an application for a search warrant be made to the District Court by a garda not below the rank of superintendent. The Minister does not decide which superintendent will make the application. All he would do is pass on the request to the Garda authorities and the commissioner and direct them to make an application for a search warrant to the District Court. There is nothing wrong with that.

With regard to the number of warrants which are refused, I do not have statistics on those and [1344] I feel sure it would be virtually impossible to compile them at short notice. However, this procedure seems to be open and fair. The Minister, after all, is the one to whom a request for a search warrant is made by the international tribunal; he merely passes the request on to the Garda who, in turn, make a request to the District Court. It is entirely within the jurisdiction and discretion of the court to decided whether to grant the warrant, taking all of the circumstances into account. There is clearly no interference whatsoever by the Executive with the Judiciary in the making of the order. The Minister does not directly seek the order; the Garda does that. There is a chain of events here which is both correct and inevitable and I cannot see why there should be any objection to it.

Amendment put and declared lost.

Section 30 agreed to.

Sections 31 to 36, inclusive, agreed to.

SECTION 37.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello Zoom on Joe Costello I move amendment No. 10:

In page 21, subsection (1) (a), line 4, after “Nations” to insert “or any organ thereof”.

This is a drafting amendment which is intended to improve the situation whereby a Minister may make regulations following a declaration from any tribunal or court established by the United Nations. The amendment seeks to extend that to cover any organ of the United Nations on the basis that the UN does not operate as a totality. Normally, the Security Council would make orders of this nature. The amendment would make it more free and open for any of the appropriate organs of the United Nations to make the request to the Minister.

Mr. O'Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue Zoom on John O'Donoghue The addition proposed by this amendment is neither necessary nor appropriate. I am not clear what “any organ thereof” means in this context. The Bill envisages that the Minister may make regulations declaring any tribunal or court established by the United Nations to be an international tribunal for the purposes of the Act. The two ad hoc tribunals with which we are dealing were established by resolutions of the Security Council and if further ad hoc tribunals are established, they will presumably be established via the Security Council also. They will clearly be covered by the phrase “established by the United Nations” and nothing more is needed. In those circumstances, I oppose the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello Zoom on Joe Costello I move amendment No. 11:

In page 21, subsection (1), lines 8 to 11, to delete paragraph (b).

[1345] This amendment would remove the Minister's power to amend the Bill by regulation even though the regulations would have the approval of the Oireachtas. The power is, in my opinion, a rather dubious and undesirable one and may well be unconstitutional. Will the Minister respond to the constitutional aspects of this provision?

Mr. O'Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue Zoom on John O'Donoghue If further tribunals are established, it is to be expected that their statutes will follow the form of the statutes of the Yugoslavian and Rwanda tribunals. This legislation can then be applied with minor modifications made by regulations, thus obviating the need for separate legislation. That is the purpose of paragraph (b) which the proposed amendment, if accepted, would delete. Any regulations made under the paragraph would have to be approved by both Houses of the Oireachtas before they could take effect. This is a safeguard against any unduly wide exercise of the regulation-making power. Paragraph (b) is a very useful provision which should be retained and the amendment is, therefore, opposed.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Section 37 agreed to.

Section 38 agreed to.

First to Fourth Schedules, inclusive, agreed to.

Title agreed to.

Bill reported without amendment and received for final consideration.

Question proposed: “That the Bill do now pass.”

Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. O'Donoghue): Information on John O'Donoghue Zoom on John O'Donoghue The passage of this Bill brings to 18 the number of Bills passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas since I became Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform just 16 months ago. I am not saying that to blow my own trumpet but I am proud of the achievement. In completing our consideration of this Bill, Ireland will be honouring its international commitment to ensure that the authorities in this country will have the necessary legal mechanisms available to them to arrest, detain and hand over persons found in the State who are wanted by the Yugoslav tribunal sitting in The Hague and the Rwanda tribunal in Arusha.

I thank the Cathaoirleach and his staff for the co-operation given to me during the passage of this Bill through the Seanad. I would also like to thank all of the Senators who contributed in a very constructive and supportive manner to the debate on the Bill. In particular, I thank the main Government and Opposition spokespersons for the constructive and detailed manner in which [1346] they dealt with this legislation. As always, the Seanad lived up to its usual high standards.

During the debate on the Bill, concerns were expressed inter alia about the effectiveness of the two tribunals. The tribunals are moving at a slow pace but we must not lose sight of the fact that, in spite of that, they are bringing people to face justice and pay the consequences of the awful atrocities they have inflicted. It is important we recognise that. We would all wish for greater progress; I sincerely hope we will see many more evil perpetrators of human rights abuses brought before the tribunals.

Since the Second Stage debate on 14 October, the diplomatic initiative has continued in Kosovo with the establishment of the Kosovo verification mission by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe. Ireland has indicated its readiness, in principle, to contribute to the verification mission. The detailed plans for the mission are still being prepared by the OSCE in Vienna.

As a small nation, Ireland can be extremely proud of the contribution made by the Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces to peacekeeping work. During my recent visits to Bosnia, Croatia and Cyprus, I had the opportunity to witness at first hand the invaluable work being carried out by the Garda contingents working with the UN. I wish to compliment the members of the Garda Síochána who work so hard, very often in extremely dangerous circumstances, for the welfare of the human race and for peace in our time. It was my privilege to have been in a position to bring to them the greetings of the Government and the Irish people.

Regarding the establishment of an international criminal court which will be based in The Hague, I understand 58 countries including Ireland have signed the statute adopted at the diplomatic conference in Rome last July. Ireland has long been a strong supporter of an independent permanent court and Senators can be assured that we will continue to support the establishment of the court in any way we can.

I thank Senators who contributed so well to the debate. I pay special tribute to the staff of my Department who worked so long and hard to bring this legislation before the Oireachtas. I feel sure the efficacy of the Bill over the coming decades will be a fitting testament to their dedication and commitment.

Mr. Connor: Information on John Connor Zoom on John Connor I join the Minister in saying I am delighted this legislation has at long last been passed by the Houses of the Oireachtas. The Minister correctly pointed out that part of the problem has been the slowness in the establishment of the two ad hoc criminal tribunals in Yugoslavia and Rwanda. We cannot forget that as long ago as 1993 the United Nations Security Council approved the ad hoc tribunal for Yugoslavia and as long ago as 1994 ratified the setting up of the tribunal for war crimes in Rwanda. It has been a long time coming and I am delighted that at long last we have reached this stage.

[1347] There is unfinished business, something the Minister touched on. I make a special appeal to the Minister and his Department to prepare legislation as a matter of absolute urgency to allow the country ratify the international criminal court which we agreed to on 17 July at the end of the UN diplomatic conference in Rome. Since then we have signed the agreement, but signing is not enough: we must ratify it. Sixty countries must ratify this statute before it comes into effect and I would like to see this happen by the end of 1999. There must be 60 countries in the civilised world which feel strongly enough about the establishment of this international criminal tribunal for which we have waited for 50 years.

Immediately after the Nuremberg trials many influential people and parliamentarians all over the world said they should have been replaced by an international criminal court. If we had an international criminal court many people such as Pol Pot and so many tyrants over the intervening years would not have embarked on their horrible trails of destruction, mass murder, etc., as they would have known there was a court in situ which would try them and that there would be no such thing as immunity, impunity or hiding behind the borders of their own country.

There is an imperative on Ireland, which rightly occupies the high moral ground on these issues in an international context, to produce legislation, hopefully in the next term, to ratify the international criminal court. Much of the work on the legislation must be included in the Bill we have just passed. Much of the legislation must follow the lines of this Bill. I urge the Minister and his Department to please ensure we are one of the 60 countries. I am a member of an international organisation of parliamentarians which is campaigning to have it ratified before the end of 1999 or at least at the commencement of 2000. I sincerely hope we will have the Minister's co-operation in that regard.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello Zoom on Joe Costello I was glad to hear the Minister say Ireland is committed to participating in the Kosovo verification mission. The former Yugoslavia is in a difficult situation in terms of dealing with the problems which have been arising and there has been a slowness in responding adequately. Nevertheless, it is good to see movement in terms of the verification mission and I would like to see our own security forces, which have a proud record, involved in it.

Regarding the international criminal court I was glad to hear the Minister say he expects some progress is being made. We have always sought an independent permanent international criminal court. As Senator Connor said, it would be a great deterrent for those in the world, even in recent decades, who have been involved in genocide of an appalling nature. The sooner the court is up and running the better.

I ask the Minister to let us know the current position regarding the Convention Against Torture [1348] Bill which I understood was promised and should be introduced.

I applaud the Minister for his prodigious work. His Department has produced 18 Bills in 16 months which amounts to about 50 per cent of the entire Government output. The Minister can take a bow in terms of the legislation he has produced, most of which is very important. I also commend his staff for their good work. I thank the Minister for his regular appearances in the House, for dealing with the legislation himself and for responding in a very courteous and detailed manner. I think debates in the House have always been constructive.

Mr. O'Donovan: Information on Dennis O'Donovan Zoom on Dennis O'Donovan I compliment the Minister and his staff for bringing the Bill to its conclusion. It is very important from an international point of view and shows the importance and regard the Government and the Minister have for international peace and the combating of international crime, etc.

The Minister has introduced 18 Bills in 16 months, representing approximately one third of all legislation which has come before the House since the Government took office. This is a great plaudit for the Minister. He is honouring the commitment he gave in Opposition that when in power he would tackle crime and introduce legislation with great speed. This is a great compliment to him and his staff. The only difficulty I have is that if he maintains this impetus we will all be kept on our toes, especially those on this side of the House.

I compliment my colleagues on the other side of the House for the amendments they have tabled on various Bills and the contributions they have made. A solid Opposition is very interesting and important. Sometimes we agree and accept amendments and sometimes we do not. Great credit must be given to my colleagues for their commitment and contributions.

I again thank the Minister for his huge contribution in introducing 18 Bills in the past 16 months.

Question put and agreed to.

Sitting suspended at 12.10 p.m. and resumed at 2.30 p.m.


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