The Diplock Courts in Northern Ireland : a fair trial? : an analysis of the law based on a study commissioned by Amnesty International
Title: The Diplock Courts in Northern Ireland : a fair trial? : an analysis of the law based on a study commissioned by Amnesty International
Author: KORFF, Douwe
Citation: Utrecht : Netherlands Human Rights Institute (SIM), 1983, SIM Special ; 3
External link: http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/othelem/organ/ai/1983-01-01_ai.pdf
Emergency legislation has been a permanent feature of the law in Northern Ireland from its foundation; it was again invoked by the Northern Irish government to introduce internment in 1971. The British government, having suspended the Northern Irish government m March 1972, to replace it with "direct rule" from London, retained internment. However. in September 197 2 it appointed a commission, chaired by Lord Diplock, to consider "what arrangements for the administration of Justice in Northern Ireland could he made in order to deal more effectively with terrorist organizations by bringing to book, otherwise than by internment by the Executive, individuals involved in terrorist activities ... " ( Diplock Report, Para I) ... It will he shown, however, that the emergency legislation has affected all stages of the criminal justice process. and some of these stages seriously. Defendants in the “Diplock" courts who contest their case may he convicted on the basis of confessions which could not form the basis of a conviction under ordinary rules. Often specific changes in legal provisions have an effect far beyond the immediate part of the law in which they are contained. This analysis therefore attempts to put such provisions, with their changes, in the context of the whole criminal justice system, to show these effects. It does so with reference to the ordinary criminal justice process as it applies in Northern Ireland. This system is broadly the same as the system in England, from which it is taken and on which. in many respects, it relies. Reference are therefore often made to English judicial precedents which apply fully to the Northern Irish system. ... Results of a study carried out on he half of the (English) Royal Commission on Criminal Procedure into psychological effects of interrogation, which drew on and confirmed international psychological research, must cast serious doubt on interrogation and “Diplock court”-practice in Northern Ireland. Many of the features of interrogation, identified in the study as affecting the reliability of confessions, are almost institutional parts of interrogation in Northern Ireland, e.g. isolation; fatigue; also the strong display of authority implicit in "forceful", "persistent" and "decisive" questioning. The study revealed that the pressures which may cause guilty suspects to confess are no different from those which may compel innocent suspects to make a false confession.
This study was submitted by Amnesty International (AI) to the UK Government in 1982 and then published, in 1983, with AI's agreement, by the Netherlands Human Rights Institute, SIM. Hard copy is sold out and now available in PDF version.
Type of Access: openAccess