I noted the impending decision on renewing the non-jury trial provisions some weeks ago. Today, the Northern Ireland Policing and Justice Minister, Paul Goggins, MP, announced the extension of those provisions for another two years. From the NIO statement.
Paul Goggins said: “Whilst the use of non-jury trials has reduced significantly in recent years, it is necessary to renew the powers in order to protect jurors from any potential risk posed by paramilitary groups. “Paramilitary and community based pressures on jurors remain significant in Northern Ireland. For the time being, the ability to hold a non-jury trial remains necessary.
“The tragic murders of Sappers Quinsey and Azimkar, Constable Stephen Carroll and Kevin McDaid further demonstrate the threat within the community and that there are those in our society that are wedded to the past. “Therefore I am announcing my intention to Parliament that I will extend the non-jury trial provisions for a further period of two years. “I will of course keep the situation under review. Government remains committed to a return to jury trial in all cases as soon as it is deemed appropriate.”
Also from the NIO statement
Note to Editors
The non-jury trial system in the Justice and Security (Northern Ireland) Act 2007 is temporary and renewable. The Act provides that it will expire on 31 July 2009 unless the legislation is renewed for a further period of two years. Renewal is by means of an affirmative resolution Statutory Instrument. The Order was laid before Parliament on 8 June 2009 in advance of debate in mid-June.
During the first year of operation of the 2007 Act, 29 certificates for non-jury trial were made, relating to 28 cases. During the same period, 48 cases were dealt with in the Crown Court, comprising 13 under the new system and 35 carried over from the old Diplock system. Since 1 August 2008 the DPP has made a further 9 certificates.