A new Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) study undertaken by Professor Shane Kilcommins (Law School, UL) and two colleagues from UCC highlighted protection gaps for people with disabilities who become victims of crime.
The ‘International Review of Legal Provisions and Supports for People with Disabilities as Victims of Crime’ provides an international comparative overview of the legal provisions and supports for crime victims with disabilities, highlighting barriers to accessing justice throughout the pre-trial, trial and post-trial periods of criminal proceedings. The study – the first of its kind – includes a list of practical recommendations on international best practice in this area, including in relation to interpretation, the relaxation of formal procedures, video testimony, and provisions for unsworn testimony.
Introducing the study’s findings today, the report author Prof Shane Kilcommins said:
“People with disabilities who are victims of crime remain largely invisible in the Irish criminal justice system, where standards of fact finding and an adversarial model of justice do not always facilitate their full and equal participation.”
“The working assumption for all criminal justice agencies should be that victims of crime with disabilities are entitled, as a minimum, to the same rights of access to the justice system as other victims and witnesses. As our report outlines, for an equitable, accessible justice process, policymakers and criminal justice agencies in Ireland need to identify people with disabilities as a distinct category of victim, with specific communicative, social, mobility, and emotional requirements.”
Kieran Rose, Acting Chair of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (Designate) said:
“This book will make an important contribution to raising awareness of the many disadvantages experienced by people with disabilities who become victims of crime. The Equality Authority was very pleased to be able to support this research through its 2012 Small Grants Fund which has funded a wide range of events, research, publications, surveys and networking activities across the nine equality grounds. Work to protect and promote the human rights of people with disabilities will remain a key priority for the new Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) which will replace the Equality Authority and the Irish Human Rights Commission later this year”.
ICCL Director Mr Mark Kelly added:
“The ICCL has been a long-standing advocate for the promotion and protection of victims’ rights in the Irish criminal justice system and is working to ensure that the government meets its obligations to victims under the EU directive on victims’ rights, which comes into force in 2015. This study, an extensive piece of research into international best practice, is designed to equip policy makers with the ideas and information they need to meaningfully protect the rights of Ireland’s most vulnerable crime victims.”
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