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British Warned Over Blunkett Proposals

3 February, 2004

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Justice Issues Gerry Kelly has warned the British government 'not to consider extending proposals to change the burden of proof in certain trials and admit secret intelligence reports as evidence to the judicial system in the six counties'. Mr Kelly's remarks come after the British Home Secretary David Blunkett publicised these proposals while touring in India.

Mr Kelly said:

"Sinn Féin have been at the forefront of arguing with the British government to radically change the ethos and direction of the criminal justice system in the North. Decades of repressive legislation have resulted in hundreds of wrongful convictions and a complete lack of confidence in the judiciary amongst the nationalist and the republican constituency.

"David Blunkett's proposals to hold secret trials and use intelligence reports as factual evidence are extremely dangerous and should be opposed by anyone with an interest in human rights or with a desire to see a fair and impartial criminal justice system.

"I would take this opportunity to warn the British government that their focus regarding the six counties has to be to remove repressive legislation not reinforce it. The first Criminal Justice Bill they produced was not up to scratch. We have since returned to it and hope to see significant improvements in the amended version. Certainly these proposals from David Blunkett can form no part of any future system here." ENDS

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