Tag Archives: Irish Council for Civil Liberties

This morning/afternoon

In 2015, the [Supreme Court] ruled that evidence obtained unconstitutionally could be admitted if a garda claims to have had no knowledge of the breach .

Via The Irish Times:

[The so-called “green garda/good faith” exception) in practice means that a garda can inadvertently breach a citizen’s fundamental rights, such as the right to privacy from the government, without there being any repercussions in relation to the evidence gathered.

….The Irish Council for Civil Liberties  (ICCL) commissioned a report on the impact of the new rule five years out from the decision.

Practitioners said that the greatest impact of the decision is before the case ever gets to trial. Two-thirds of practitioners said they changed their advice to clients after JC because “you know they are not going to win”.

As citizens in a democracy, we may well wonder whether the “real chilling effect”, strong sense of inertia and defeatism that JC has reportedly induced, are qualities we may wish for among criminal law practitioners. Rates of guilty pleas, according to the DPP’s most recent report, now stand at 92 per cent in Ireland.

“While several referenced a drive towards professionalisation of policing in recent years, there was also an acknowledgment that not all elements within the force adhere to high standards.

Experienced practitioners referred during interviews to gardaí lying when giving evidence, threatening to arrest close relatives, planting evidence and physically assaulting clients.”

Ill-effects of change to law on evidence starting to manifest (Irish Times)

RollingNews

From top: Johnny Ryan, Of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties; Helen Dixon, Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner: A video explaining Real-Time Bidding (RTB)  and ‘the biggest data breach in history’

This morning.

Google and several data brokers are violating the EU’s privacy rules by harvesting people’s personal information to build highly detailed online profiles including some firms’ collection of information on sexual orientation, health status and religious beliefs, according to a report published today.

Via PIltico.eu

The accusations — from Johnny Ryan, a senior fellow at the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, an NGO — come 18 months after Ireland’s privacy regulator began a probe into how Google collects and shares people’s online information for its advertising business.

Several other European data protection authorities subsequently received separate complaints into so-called real-time bidding (RTB), a system by which advertisers use data to target people with paid-for messages when they surf the web.

Ryan said the real-time bidding system, which broadcasted web users’ online behavior and habits to multiple advertising companies and data brokers, infringed on the region’s privacy rules that required data to be kept secure and used proportionately.

The [Irish Data Protection] Commission has failed to stop that ongoing biggest data breach in history and as a consequence people across Europe and in Ireland are exposed to intimate profiling including of health conditions and political views and location over time, because the RTB system leaks that data into the data broker market,” he told POLITICO.

Google and data brokers accused of illegally collecting people’s data: report (Politico.eu)

Meanwhile

This morning

RTÉ Radio One’s Today with Claire Byrne.

Liam Herrick, Executive Director of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL), spoke about the implications of a possible “crackdown through legislation on gatherings in homes”.

Liam Herrick: “I think the idea that we’re leaping to more criminalisation of private behaviour implies, first of all, that the Government has done all that it can do to deal with proven evidence of problem areas such as direct provision and meat plants and nursing homes. And it also assumes that the Government has exhausted all of its resources in terms of clear public health communication and support of the community and, only as a last resort, has leaping to criminalisation.

“I think they are two assumptions that are very, very questionable, given what we’ve seen over the last number of weeks.”

Claire Byrne: “But given what we know, right, about what’s happening with the cases of Covid-19 and we heard last night there’s nearly 400 clusters. We also heard that 252 of those clusters relate to social gatherings in private households. So we have a problem.”

Herrick: “Well, let’s define, Claire, what do they mean by social gathering in private households. If we’re talking criminalising gatherings of more than six people in a private home. There are almost an infinite range of events or situations in which more that six people might gather in a home. My family has seven people in it so does this mean that if we have two more people into the home from two other households, we’re committing a criminal offence?

“Other people share houses, rented accommodation, where there may be more than six people renting the house. They may wish to have one or two friends to attend them. You can have family events, people can be caring for each other. The idea of this kind of social gathering being blurred with the purported problem of house parties of 100s of young people gathering at locations is I think very problematic and the idea that there are clusters and outbreaks – well, are these linked to large events? Or are they linked to the fact that young people are being encouraged to go back out into the economy and work and because, inevitably, they’re coming into contact with community transmission that there may be problems in homes.

I think this is a very unproven, vague and I would say something that really can’t be dealt with properly by the law and this is without, of course, looking at the huge, legal obstacles that we are dealing with here. We have the protection of the family home, the inviolability of the dwelling and the right to private and family life under the European Convention on Human Rights.

“And if we are talking about inserting the criminal law into the ordinary family and private life of members of the community, I think the Government has to go much, much further to make a case for such drastic action.”

Byrne: “I suppose though, if you’re looking at those numbers though, as they have been on the increase in the last number of weeks, the alternative to doing something like this is another lockdown?”

Herrick: “Well, this is, I think, the absurdity here. We don’t have, at present, restrictions on movement outside of one particular county. So we’re saying to people: you’re free to move about, you’re free to work, you’re free to go to a pub, you’re free to go to a restaurant, but we are considering criminalising you inviting a small number of people into your home. And we’re saying that we can’t trust you to behave responsibly in your own home.

I mean we have the absurd situation at present that you can’t attend a small sporting event, a GAA, soccer event with 100 or 200 people, you can go to a pub to watch the same event. But we’re now saying to people that they won’t be able to invite one or two friends over to watch the same event in their own home. And I think we really are in danger here of bringing the law into disrepute.

“And the idea that the guards would be drawn into policing private behaviour is, I think, going against the whole ethos of what the guards have tried to, and succeeded in doing, over the last couple of months, is strengthening the relationship with the community.”

Byrne: “I see what you’re saying and it makes logical sense but I suppose, on the other hand, we do have this problem and it’s really difficult to square the circle isn’t it? I mean for the authorities that are dealing with this, how do we control the infection rates without telling people, through legislation if they need to, to stop gathering indoors?”

Herrick: “I think what we’re losing here is the logic and the coherence of how we go from public health advice to the Government weighing that up and making policy decisions and only as a last resort introducing legislation that is necessary and proportionate. I think as we moved away from the phases that we had earlier, as NPHET has been given a role of actually recommending criminal sanctions it seems now and there is a confusion, at a very profound level now between what’s advice, what’s regulation, and what’s law.

“I think we are losing the coherence of our approach. The public had accepted incredible restrictions on their rights and at the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, we accept the need for many of the restrictions that have been introduced but they need to be done in a lawful way, they need to be done only where necessary and proportionate and I think we are now leaping to very invasive, criminal sanctions without the Government actually articulating the necessity.

Why, for example, are we going to have restrictions on private homes when we don’t have restrictions on movements between homes. And I think that the Government really needs to be doing more to explain this rather all of us only reading about this in The Irish Times this morning. I mean two weeks ago we were told the Government were considering primary legislation, now it seems this is going to be one of the health regulations.

“I mean, it really is not a proper to go about dealing with the public on such an important matter.”

Listen here

UPDATE:

RTÉ reporting:

“Cabinet is set to give gardaí three new enforcement powers to close pubs that do not serve food or maintain social distancing on the premises.”

….”Government continues to worry about the impact of social gatherings in houses on Covid-19, but it is not considering legislation today that could give gardaí powers to enter a home where more than six people are visiting.”

Par-tay!

Part of The Report Card for the HSE/Department of Health Covid tracker app includes reference to Google Firebase and Twillo possibly obtaining patient data

This morning/afternoon.

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) and Digital Rights Ireland (DRI) have issued a report card evaluating the HSE/Department of Health Covid-19 tracker app prior to its launch.

How did it do?

Regarding the app’s efficacy, experts have given the app a D.

Dr Stephen Farrell, Research Fellow, School of Computer Science and Statistics, Trinity College Dublin (speaking in a personal capacity, said:

“We have no clear evidence before us that the app accurately detects close contacts to Covid-19. In the alternative, our independent research shows that app signalling accuracy varies substantially depending on user environments.”

Regarding the app’s clear and limited purpose, experts have given the app a D.

ICCL’s Information Rights Director Elizabeth Farries said:

“European data protection guidance says Covid-19 apps must pursue a single purpose of contact tracing to alert people potentially exposed to Covid-19. Unfortunately, location data and symptom tracking extend beyond this single purpose.”

Regarding the app’s statutory oversight, experts have given the app a C.

Digital Rights Ireland Director Antóin Ó Lachtnáin said:

“We would question the legal basis of consent the government appears to be relying on under the GDPR. Furthermore, long term, we are very concerned that Google/Apple will have ultimate control over most of the EU’s Covid-19 app ecosystem, and not our governments.”

We’re not angry.

Just disappointed.

FIGHT!

Full report card here.

Experts Issue Pre-Release Report Card on the HSE Covid-19 Tracker App (ICCL)

Small ads in irish newspapers in the 1950s and 1960s

This morning.

Today is International Day of the Disappeared.

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) has reiterated its call for the Government to ratify the UN Convention on Enforced Disappearances (CED).

Via ICCL:

‘It is essential that government appropriately address the potential enforced disappearance of hundreds, if not thousands, of children from mother and baby homes and the ongoing legacy of harm caused by this.

In particular, we point to the failure to locate the burial site of 836 children at the Bessborough Mother and Baby Home and the failure to exhume the burial place of 796 children at Tuam as two examples of practices that could constitute enforced disappearances in this country.

If ratified CED, the State would be obliged to prevent the withholding of information and to impose sanctions on those who have information and do not share it.

The Mother and Baby Homes Commission has said they believe information was withheld from them, and indeed that Church bodies provided information which was “speculative, inaccurate and misleading”.

CED would require investigators to have the necessary powers and resources to conduct the investigation effectively.

Through its continuing failure to compel witnesses to give evidence to processes of investigation, the State is helping to hide the truth and ensuring families of the disappeared remain in the dark.

If it ratified CED, the State would also be obliged to hold the perpetrators of these human rights violations criminally accountable. ICCL is concerned that the government’s current strategy of investigation is hindering future access to evidence, and thereby preventing prosecutions, by prioritising secrecy over transparency.

We are particularly concerned that the Retention of Records Bill, which is currently passing through the Oireachtas, will seal all evidence given to the Mother and Baby Homes Commission for 75 years.

This is particularly worrying given that An Garda Síochána could not carry out prosecutions stemming from the Ryan report because of the Commission’s similar terms of reference.

In 2016, when the UN Committee Against Torture demanded to know why there had been no prosecutions, the State reported that the perpetrators identified in that report could not be named.

This approach to potential evidence of criminal wrongdoing is inexcusable, particularly given all that has come to light over the past year, including the falsification of adoption certificates, the possibility that the state was complicit in what could be considered child trafficking, and the ongoing struggle of adoptees to access their basic information, including birth certificates.

ICCL has repeatedly called for information to be provided to those who were illegally or forcibly adopted in Ireland during the twentieth century but the State has yet to respond appropriately.

Despite numerous apologies and gestures towards restorative justice for survivors of the cruel and inhumane system of institutionalisation of the most vulnerable in this country, the State is still not living up to its obligations to survivors or families of victims.

It must act to properly address the ongoing legacy and harm caused by the range of human rights violations that occurred in these institutions.’

ICCL calls for action on disappeared children (ICCL)

 Members of the Garda Riot Squad (Public Order Unit), during the National Emergency Service Parade in Dublin City Centre last September

This morning.

Via The Irish Council For Civil Liberties

ICCL travelled to Cork, Ennis and Dublin between 19 and 22 June to meet with environmental activists, anti-war protesters, anti-eviction groups, and activists living in Direct Provision. We also met with representatives of An Garda Síochána and relevant oversight bodies.

…We received reports of garda misuse of the Public Order Act (through arresting protesters and later dropping charges), of garda intimidation of protesters (through photography, following cars, harassment, and stop-and-search), of serious deficiencies in GSOC handling of complaints, and of gardaí imposing limits on where people can protest without a clear basis in law.

International standards state that sit-ins and meetings are protected by the right to protest and may extend to private spaces accessible to the public.

However, we heard a number of serious specific issues around protests at or near privately owned land – including during evictions and at Direct Provision centres.

We received reports that gardaí themeslves are evicting protesters from squats when media are not present. Protesters have also been arrested from public spaces such as city councils.

We received reports that gardaí have subjected those arrested at protests to treatment that interferes with their right to dignity, including psychological trauma, strip-searching and being forced to squat and cough.

Arrested protesters have allegedly been encouraged to give statements without lawyers present, and in some cases even denied access to their lawyers.

We are extremely concerned that the rights to assembly, to free expression and to free association are being curtailed by private operators of Direct Provision centres, allegedly with the support of An Garda Síochána.

Residents informed us that their meetings have been labelled “illegal”, that people have been escorted in handcuffs to public spaces where they are “allowed” to protest, and that food and benefits have been withheld in response to protests.

ICCL highlights urgent concerns for the right to protest following national consultation (ICCL)

Eamonn Farrell/Rollingnews

From top: Paschal Donohoe, then Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, launches the Public Services Card (PSC) in 2016; Oireachtas justice committee, Anna Morgan and Jennifer O’Sullivan, of the Data Protection Commission; and Independents 4 Change TD Clare Daly

This morning.

Members of the Data Protection Commission are appearing before the Oireachtas justice committee which includes Independents 4 Change TDs Mick Wallace and Clare Daly.

In January the Department of Employment and Social Protection refused to release information with regard to the an investigation by the DPC into the legality of the public services card.

The request for the information was made by the the Irish Council for Civil Liberties.

Instead, the DPC confirmed to The Irish Times that the DPC doesn’t intend to publish its report in full.

This morning, the DPC told the committee they will publish final report with the department’s permission.

But the department has previously said it will not publish the report without the DPC’s permission.

In addition, asked if the DPC agrees with Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina saying the Public Services Card doesn’t involve biometric data processing, the DPC representatives said they couldn’t comment.

Lawyer Elizabeth Farries, of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, has been following this morning’s meeting and has said she’s disappointed with the answers given by the DPC members in response to certain questions.

Elizabeth tweetz:

Previously: ‘A Matter Of Urgent Importance’

Paschal Donohoe, then Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, launches the Public Services Card (PSC) in 2016

This morning.

It’s being reported that the Department of Employment and Social Protection is refusing to release information with regard to an investigation by the Data Protection Commission into the legality of the public services card.

The request for information was made by the Irish Council for Civil Liberties.

In addition, the DPC has confirmed to The Irish Times that the DPC doesn’t intend to publish its report in full.

Instead it will publish a summary of its findings.

Elaine Edwards, in The Irish Times, reports:

A request from the Irish Council for Civil Liberties to the department asking it to release an interim investigation report by the commission into the card and connected projects has been rejected, on grounds that releasing it could reveal the department’s plans or have a significant adverse affect on its functions.

The ICCL call comes as the final stage of Government legislation which will allow wider sharing of personal data with organisations and agencies is set to be debated in the Dáil on Tuesday.

ICCL director Liam Herrick called for “full transparency on the legal basis for the public services card because it violates the privacy and data protection rights of people living in Ireland.

“We have been campaigning against its introduction because it’s unnecessary, costly, and of questionable efficacy – and it targets in particular economically vulnerable people, such as those dependant on social welfare. Further, it is deeply troubling that the Government has continued to roll the card out for essential services while a question hangs over its legality,” he said.

Ms Edwards also reported that the DPC sent the department “a draft confidential report” in recent months for comment and that this report contains “13 provisional findings on issues spanning legal basis to transparency matters”.

Further to this…

Solicitor Simon McGarr has tweeted his thoughts on the matter…

Meanwhile…

Nurse Polly has also tweeted her experience of having to get a card.

UPDATE:

Department refuses to release details of public services card inquiry (The Irish Times)

Rights group challenge over public services card (The Times Ireland)

Previously: Thank You, Nurse Polly

Rollingnews

From top: Members of the Garda Riot Squad (Public Order Unit), during the National Emergency Service Parade on September 1 in Dublin city ; Alyson Kilpatrick’s report for the Irish Council of Civil Liberties and Ms Kilpatrick

This morning.

At the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission on Green Street, Dublin 7.

Former human rights advisor to the Policing Board of Northern Ireland, Alyson Kilpatrick BL presented her report A human rights-based approach to policing in Ireland – for which she was commissioned by the Irish Council for Civil Liberties.

In her report, Ms Kilpatrick writes:

A human rights-based approach is necessary because it is required by law. In Ireland, the European Convention on Human Rights Act 2003 requires An Garda Síochána to perform its functions in a manner compatible with the state’s obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

Moreover, a human rights-based approach is the best means of securing the reform of policing that is desired and needed. It is effective in securing a professional, lawful, democratic and accountable police service that respects and values the people it is there to serve while effectively combating crime and maintaining order.

It will help secure police legitimacy and therefore enhance safety and security. A human rights-based approach puts the rights of individuals and protected groups, enshrined at law by the ECHR,3 at the centre of every decision and action of the Garda Síochána and gardaí.

…If police are to build (or rebuild) trust they must behave so as to secure the confidence, approval and support of the public – willingly – by their professional, human rights compliant approach which respects democracy and the rule of law.

Trust in the police can be easily undermined, particularly when public order operations end in violence.

Scenes of police battling with protesters for example will be beamed across the country, drawing observers into a debate about the very legitimacy of the policing operation and the legitimacy of police themselves.

The police will be compelled to justify their actions by reference to the law and human rights principles. Without a ready willingness to explain, provide justification and answer questions the police will be pitched against the community it is there to serve.

Unanswered questions will invite speculation and silence will result in conspiracy theories. Tactics will be discussed and criticised by those who urge a harder edged policing response and by those who condemn the police for their over-use and/or misuse of power.

An Garda Síochána does not make its policy directives, training, strategy, decision-making logs or de-briefs available for public scrutiny.

In other words, the framework within which the garda operate is entirely hidden from the public.

There has been published an overarching policy directive on public order incident command but it is general in nature. It does contain the statement that it is “the aim of An Garda Siochana to uphold and protect the human and constitutional rights of everyone” but there is little in terms of practical guidance on how that will be achieved.

The garda’s policing of protest has given rise to concern among the public about tactics and potential political interference in policing operations but remains shrouded in secrecy.

The report can be read in full here

Pics: Eamonn O’Farrell/Rollingnews and ICCL 

 

From top: 34 Frederick Street North, Dublin last night; Garda Commissioner Drew Harris

This afternoon.

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties has released a statement in regards to the removal of housing activists from 34 Frederick Street North, Dublin 1 last night – which the group says involved “over disproportionate and unaccountable tactics”.

They write:

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) is today demanding answers from An Garda Síochána over the tactics used during an eviction of housing rights activists from a building at North Frederick Street in Dublin’s North Inner City last night.

ICCL is calling for a swift public report from the Garda Commissioner regarding the Gardaí’s decision-making in advance of last night’s operation, and the reasons for and circumstances of the arrests and alleged injuries sustained by protesters.

Liam Herrick, Executive Director of the ICCL said:

ICCL has been highlighting the lack of transparency regarding the Gardaí’s policies and tactics in the areas of protest policing and use of force. We are calling on the Garda Commissioner to provide answers about what decisions were taken in advance of, and during, last night’s operation.

We want to know: what was the legal basis for the Garda operation? Was it on request of the owner? What are the protocols for such requests? Was there engagement with the occupiers in advance of the Garda operation? What consideration was there of the need to use minimal force? What was the basis for the arrests?

ICCL demands answers from Gardaí over disproportionate and unaccountable tactics used at North Frederick Street eviction (Irish Council for Civil Liberties)

Meanwhile…

“What we have seen raises concerns about possible excessive and unnecessary use of force against what appear to be largely peaceful protestors. Whenever the lawful use of force by An Garda Síochána is unavoidable, it must be used with restraint and in proportion to the seriousness of the law enforcement objective.

Gardaí should only facilitate and support the actions of private security personnel where they are lawful and do not involve excessive force. In this regard, it is of concern that the private security personnel reportedly failed to display identity badges, as required under section 30 of the Private Security Services Act.

We urge that these events be investigated as a matter of urgency to ascertain if human rights abuses were committed, and if so, ensure appropriate action.”

Fiona Crowley, Research and Legal Manager for Amnesty International Ireland this afternoon.

Earlier: Second-Hand Import?

How Can You Justify These Actions?

Yesterday: What’s Going On Here?

Eamonn Farrell/Rollingnews