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Catholic experience of Criminal Justice unacceptable

12 May, 2009 - by Alex Maskey

Sinn Féin Policing Board Member, Alex Maskey MLA (South Belfast) responding to the Criminal Justice Inspectorate Report has branded it as a ‘damning indictment’ of the bias inherent in the Criminal Justice system here.

Alex Maskey said:

“This Report highlights the institutional bias in the Justice system. The Criminal Justice Inspectorate’s findings that Catholics are more likely to face prosecution, to be remanded in custody and over-represented in the general prison population and subject to discriminatory practices in prison, confirms the belief amongst the Catholic/nationalist population of an inherent bias that reaches across the Criminal Justice system.

“While the implementation of the Patten recommendations will address the situation in regards policing, the same diligence needs to be applied across the Justice system from the PPS to the recruitment of members of the Prison Service. The comments attributed to Police sources that Catholic juveniles broke the law more often than Protestants – a claim rejected by the Inspectorate – is reprehensive and are an indication of the work we still need to do to achieve accountable and representative policing.

“It is reprehensible that Catholics should be subjected to any form of discrimination at any point of the process from arrest through consideration of charges by the PPS, access to bail while awaiting trial or the right to privileges while serving sentences.

“This comes as no surprise to nationalists and only serves to highlight the need to transfer Policing and Justice powers into the control of local politicians as soon as possible. I am seeking an urgent meeting with British Security Minister, Paul Goggins to demand action to redress this situation.”

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