Double Standards on Detention: Belarus and Ireland

AH, Baile Átha Cliath

In the last few weeks there has been more newspaper coverage of the Western-sponsored civil unrest occurring in Belarus. This is due to the fact that the unelected and self-appointed opposition leader has been touring Ireland and giving statements to a government committee. Alongside her statements, it has been revealed that several southern politicians are “sponsoring” political prisoners in Belarus. This includes the law professor turned TD, Ivana Bacik, who commented that events there resonate with her, as her grandfather fought the Nazi’s and the communists too. Ivana Bacik is of particular interest, because of all the elected officials polluting the chambers of power in Ireland, she has a deep grasp of the judicial system, including it’s more undesirable elements, such as the Special Criminal Court.
For those of you who are unaware, the Special Criminal Court was established in 1939 during The Emergency of WWII. During the course of the war it was manned by military officers and used predominantly to target Republicans and Communists. Thousands were interned in the Curragh Camp. It was returned in the 60s to target Republicans and did so successfully.  One of the most well known cases is that of Nicky Kelly and the other IRSP members who were wrongly accused, imprisoned and ultimately pardoned for the Sallins Train Robbery. But the court continues to exist, continues to imprison, and continues to have questionable standards of justice. How many lives have been ruined because of individuals that have been wrongly accused? How many have spent time behind bars because of the low threshold of evidence and high rate of conviction? These are all questions we’ll never truly know the answers of, but one can only imagine what would the outcome be for many of the defendants had they been brought before a regular criminal court instead.
What makes the Special Criminal Court so special is that it steps away from what we regularly understand to be due process.   
Some of the key points that make the special criminal court different are as follows:
  • There is no jury.
  • Anecdotal evidence points at judge, DPP and Garda collaboration.
  • Defendants are regularly treated as presumed to be guilty, not innocent.
  • Secret Garda evidence is regularly admitted, it is not disclosed to the defendants legal representatives.
  • It carries an unusually high conviction rate of 95%, but this makes sense, when the entire process is rigged to successfully prosecute.
What should be bizarre to any political commentator or follower in Ireland is why elected representatives here have little to nothing to say about the Special Criminal Court. Why do they not reach out to Republican political prisoners convicted under questionable standards and attempt to help them? I think that the answer is relatively simple. Maintaining double standards is a regular theme among representatives of the ruling class, so whilst many of our own elected representatives have a lot to say about what is happening in Belarus and the justice system there, they remain silent about events here. 
Let this brief piece be a reminder of the double standards of politicians in Ireland and simultaneously a renewed call for this court, and the Diplock courts in the six counties to be abolished.   
Below you will find a list of organisations that have called for its abolition. None of these organisations are “radical” as the anti-Republican and anti-Communist propaganda would suggest but are in fact relatively moderate institutions part of Irish society:
UN Human Rights Committee
Amnesty International
Irish Council for Civil Liberties & founder, former President, Mary Robinson
The Irish Times

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