The Committee on the Administration of Justice have just produced their latest newsletter. The annual Stephen Livingstone lecture delivered was delivered by Martin OBrien, Programme Director of Atlantics Philanthropies Reconciliation and Human Rights Programme and a former Director of CAJ.
The lecture was summarised by a Sarah Lorimer a CAJ volunteer. She reported that:
Mr. O’Brien found it telling, for example, that those areas of the Criminal Justice Review which were most concerned with increasing transparency and human rights compliance are the ones where least progress has been made. For example, we still do not have an equity monitoring system or a representative workforce strategy for the criminal justice system.
Mr OBrien commended those involved for the work they had done, and who saw their brief as building on what already exists and adapting that to the particular circumstances of Northern Ireland. He suggested that it was precisely because they had done their job that they were subjected to attack. He believed that those who argue now that we do not need a Bill of Rights are out of step with ordinary people.
Exactly which ordinary people Mr. O’Brien consulted is of course somewhat unclear.
In terms of dealing with the past Mr. O’Brien noted that there did not seem to be a consensus on the Eames Bradley (what shattering insight: you could not pay for such razor sharp analysis) and was also concerned that the cost was being used as a reason not to have further enquires.
In addition the Committee on the Administration of Justice has further helped Northern Ireland by supporting the Public Interest Litigation Support Project (the PILS Project).This marvellous organisation launched itself at a meeting at the Waterfront Hall in October and is an independent organisation set up with a grant from Atlantic Philanthropies. The PILS mission statement is to advance human rights and equality in Northern Ireland through the use of and support for public interest litigation. Public interest litigation is defined as the use of litigation or legal action which seeks to advance the cause of minority or disadvantaged groups or individuals, or which raises issues of broad public concern.
What would we do without such useful organisations?