Tag Archives: law

The Turn Off The Red Light campaign in 2012 calling for criminalising the purchase of sex

Last Friday, the Leinster Leader newspaper reported that two female sex workers, one of whom is pregnant, had been jailed for nine months by Judge Desmond Zaidan at Naas District Court the previous day.

They had been charged with keeping or running a brothel – an offence under the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act, 1993 which was maintained when the Act was amended in 2017, despite the then Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald being called on by several politicians to remove it.

The newspaper reported that the court heard gardai raided the Newbridge apartment in which the women lived last November after it had been under surveillance for “some time”.

In a previous court appearance, the court heard the raid was part of An Garda Siochána’s Operation Quest.

There were no clients at the property when the house was raided.

The newspaper reported:

No significant money was found at the scene either.

Was business that bad?” Judge Desmond Zaidan asked.

“It was early in the night,” Sgt Jacob told the court.

…Their solicitor told the court that the women hope to return to their native Romania once the trial is concluded and to avoid bringing any embarrassment to their families. And gardai were satisfied that this was the case.

Their solicitor said that the women had a sum of money available that could be paid to a charity.

But Judge Desmond Zaidan was not inclined to give them this opportunity. “They weren’t forced into this position.”

The newspaper reported that the woman who is pregnant has lodged an appeal and has been released on bail.

The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill 2015 was put forward to reform Ireland’s laws regarding prostitution and it was signed into law in 2017.

In relation to the law on brothel keeping, a debate in the Dáil in November 2016 heard Green Party TD Catherine Martin say:

“What the Government is proposing is to criminalise the buyer and remove one of the criminal sanctions against solicitation but also to create a new solicitation crime and leave brothel keeping as a criminal act. The Nordic approach has received a significant level of criticism, particularly when It comes to the health and the safety of sex workers.

“Significant questions remain about the Nordic model. The Green Party’s key concern with it is that a sufficient evaluation has not been carried out upfront to show whether the changes brought in had any impact on the health and well being of sex workers. Stories are emerging of sex workers driven further underground and, therefore, out of safety in order to protect the identities of their clients. The latter means that they place themselves at even greater risk.

“The UK is currently revisiting its approach. The select Home Affairs Committee has said that the Home Office should immediately introduce legislation to allow for solicitation by sex workers and to change brothel-keeping laws to allow workers share premises so that they are safer.”

Social Democrats TD Róisín Shortall said:

When two or more prostitutes choose to work from the same location for safety, they should not be prosecuted for brothel keeping unless there is clear evidence that one is profiting from the work of others.

“As the law still stands, if two prostitutes work together, they can be accused of brothel-keeping. Are we going to force a situation where women working in the sex trade will be forced to work alone in order to get around this issue and to avoid prosecution under this legislation, obviously putting themselves at further risk? There are significant issues here.”

Solidarity TD Ruth Coppinger said:

We will also table an amendment to exclude the criminalisation of two women working together in a brothel, not pimping, one not benefiting from the proceeds of the earnings of the other. Sex workers should not be subject to harassment and prosecution and it is utterly backward that the Tánaiste has not taken these amendments on board.”

Independents 4 Change TD Clare Daly said:

“The work by the barrister, Michael Lynn, and commissioned by Sex Workers Alliance Ireland, SWAI, is an incredibly well-grounded, academic and research-based piece of work in this area. He evolved into a position of coming to the conclusion that the Bill would violate the human rights of sex workers.

“His key points on that were, first, the lack of assessment of the real impact of the Swedish model, the fact that the penalties against brothel keeping and so on are likely to contravene the human rights of sex workers, and he was very critical of the fact that there is no review in the legislation.”

In December 2016, Ms Fitzgerald told the Select Committee on Justice and Equality debate, when the 2015 Bill was at committee stage:

“The effect of the amendments, in reality, would be to decriminalise brothels in certain circumstances. I am concerned that decriminalisation of brothel-keeping would create a legal loophole that would be ripe for exploitation by the organised crime gangs involved in the trafficking and exploitation of women involved in prostitution.

“Women would come under pressure to claim that they were working independently when that was not the case and the Garda would be limited in the actions it could take to close brothels and disrupt the activities of pimps and criminal gangs.”

Further to this…

Solicitor Wendy Lyon has tweeted her thoughts…

Related: Brothel laws criminalising sex workers: a feature, not a bug (Wendy Lyon, Feminist Ire)

Previously: A ‘Mass Surveillance On Sex Workers’? (April 2019)

Stopping At Red (September 2012)

Turn Off The Red, Blue And White Light (November 2013)

“Prostitution Is Messy, It’s Regrettable But It’s A Fact Of Life” (November 2014)

Hoor We To Judge? (April 2017)

From left: Paul Anthony McDermott SC; Mass Card

During a discussion on RTE Radio 1’s Today with Sean O’Rourke surrounding the controversial bail granted to a taxi driver accused of sexual assault Senior Counsel and lecturer in Law at UCD Paul Anthony McDermott was crystal clear:

“We have the concept of bail because of the presumption of innocence. Under our system nobody can decide you have committed a crime other than the jury. So, not the media, not the Gardai, not anyone. It is only a jury.

So we take the view that unless and until twelve members of the public decide you have committed a crime the system works on the basis that you didn’t commit it.

That is regarded as a constitutional right but even if we amended the constitution in the morning the European Convention on Human Rights to which Ireland is a party also requires a presumption of innocence.”

I’m sure Mr. McDermott will be greatly surprised to learn that his statement is incorrect.

The Irish state does not universally extend the presumption of innocence to its citizens.

There is one very specific crime that the State considers to be so heinous that those found guilty are not just liable to a prison sentence of ten years or a €300,000 fine but are also deprived of the presumption of innocence principle.

That crime is the selling of even one Mass card without the written permission of a Catholic bishop.

There are many who will find it difficult to believe that such a law could exist in a modern democratic republic; so here it is in black and white.

Charities Act 2009

99: [1] A person who sells a Mass card other than pursuant to an arrangement with a recognised person shall be guilty of an offence.

[2] In proceedings for an offence under this section it shall be presumed, until the contrary is proved on the balance of probabilities, that the sale of the Mass card to which the alleged offence relates was not done pursuant to an arrangement with a recognised person.

I am not a legal person so I am open to challenge on my interpretation of this law; which is:

A person who sells a Mass card without the permission of a Catholic bishop will be presumed guilty until he/she can prove the contrary.

The crux of the presumption of innocence principle is very straighforward:

It is not for the accused to establish his/her innocence. It is for the prosecution to prove the guilt of the accused.

Article 99 [1] turns this principle on its head.

Therefore; in Ireland:

The presumption of innocence that is implicit in Article 31.1 of the Irish Constitution does not apply to those accused of this crime.

The presumption of innocence under Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights does not apply to those accused of this crime.

The presumption of innocence under Article 11 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights does not apply to those accused of this crime.

To my knowledge nobody from the legal profession has challenged this draconian law so it is reasonable to assume that, for that profession, there is no difficulty.

It is, however, reasonable to expect members of the legal profession such as Mr. McDermott to include this exemption to the presumption of innocence principle when delivering an opinion on the issue.

Anthony Sheridan is freelance journalists and blogs at PublicEnquiry.

Rollingnews

A mural of the late Savita Halappanavar by artist Aches on Richmond Street South, Dublin, at the time of the Eighth Amendment

RTE reports:

Today’s Supreme Court decision refusing to hear a further appeal on challenging the outcome of the referendum on the Eighth Amendment means the legislation can now be signed into law, according to the Taoiseach.

Legislation to allow for abortion in certain circumstances is on track to be passed by the Oireachtas before Christmas, Leo Varadkar told the media on the final day of his party’s think-in in Galway.

He said the Government intends to have services in place “for Irish women who need them” in January.

Supreme Court refuses further Eighth Amendment appeal (RTE)

Sam Boal/Rollingnews

Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 13.24.17

Cormac Flynn writes:

Some people may have missed this, with all the activity over the last few days, but the Lawyers for Yes group have released two excellent animated videos that explain clearly & simply the difference between Civil Partnership and Civil Marriage, and why surrogacy is not an issue in the Marriage Equality Referendum.

MORE: Lawyers For Yes: The Case For Marriage Equality

Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 12.18.18 Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 12.20.06

A video  highlighting the difficulties faced by members of the transgender community across Europe seeking gender recognition made for Transgender EU .

Bob Gallagher writes:

Proud to say the video was shot in Dublin with a talented mixture of Irish and international cast in front of the camera, and a very dedicated and brilliant crew behind it.

The video was made through an Irish production company called Invisible Thread, commissioned by TGEU in Berlin.

FIND OUT MORE: 34 Countries in Europe make this nightmare a reality (Transgender EU)

(Additional H/T: Jim Redmond)

Screen Shot 2015-02-10 at 01.23.27 Screen Shot 2015-02-10 at 01.24.05 Screen Shot 2015-02-10 at 01.24.26

According to the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU)’s 2014 Freedom of Thought Report, 55 countries worldwide – including EU member states – have criminal laws restricting blasphemy. In 39 countries, it is an imprisonable offence, and in six, it carries the death penalty.

Interactive map here.

New campaign to end blasphemy laws worldwide launches ((Samira Shackle, Richard Dawkins Foundation)

((H/T: John Gallen)

lady-justice

The genetic parents of twins born to a surrogate have won their High Court case to have the biological mother recognised as the legal mother.

The genetic mother of the twins, who were born to her sister using her embryos, challenged the refusal of the Chief Registrar to record her name on the birth certificates.

At a hearing in January, the court was told there was no provision to record anyone other than the woman who gave birth to a child as the mother.

This morning, the High Court gave a number of groundbreaking declarations, including that the genetic mother is entitled to have her name on the birth certificates.

 

Genetic Parents Win Landmark Surrogacy Case (RTE)

Image via Business & Leadership