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Kelly - Concern over Justice Oversight Commissioner's remit

18 December, 2002

Sinn Féin Criminal Justice Spokesperson, North Belfast MLA Gerry Kelly has cautiously welcomed the announcement that open recruitment is to begin in the New Year for a Justice Oversight Commissioner but expressed concern that the remit may be restricted by the current legislative proposals. Mr. Kelly said:

"Sinn Féin has consistently argued for an Oversight Commissioner since the outset of the review of the Criminal Justice System in March 2000. However, today's announcement can only be cautiously welcomed because the remit of the Oversight Commissioner is entirely restricted by the recommendations of the review which did not go far enough.

"While the proposals for the Oversight Commissioner allow powers to scrutinise the implementation of the recommendations of the Criminal Justice review, Sinn Féin is concerned that the review fell a long way short of what was required to address some of the fundamental flaws in the justice system and the way it has operated over the past 30 years.

"Sinn Féin is also deeply concerned that the Oversight Commissioner will not be independent, given the approach to the review which became an in-house NIO driven process. The lack of independence of the review ultimately led to it falling short of what was required.

"The remit of the Commissioner is restricted by the review recommendation but Sinn Féin will continue to push for both greater changes within the criminal justice system and a wider remit for the Commissioner."ENDS

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