Written Answers. - Anti-Terrorism Measures.

Brendan Howlin

Question:

90 Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has concluded his consideration of the constitutional implications of the proposed anti-terrorism measures agreed at the Council of Ministers meeting on 20 September 2001; the proposed legislative measures he intends to introduce before the end of 2001 arising from this package; when he expects that these will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27640/01]

There are a wide variety of measures embraced by the conclusions of the Justice and Home Affairs Council of 20 September concerning the fight against terrorism. A number of these will require legislation to give them effect while others can be implemented on an administrative basis. The requirements of our law, including constitutional requirements, are naturally taken into consideration in determining both how to implement the measures in question and, where negotiations on instruments are ongoing, our approach to those negotiations.

Measures which will necessitate legislation include the requirement for all member states to give effect to a number of pre-existing European Union and United Nations Conventions relevant to the fight against terrorism. The instruments specifically mentioned in the Council conclusions in this respect were: the 1995 and 1996 EU Conventions on Extradition; the 1999 UN Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism; and the 2000 EU Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters and the Protocol to that Convention.

The position in regard to those conventions is as follows: the Extradition (European Union Convention) Bill, 2001, which I published on 9 November will give effect to the first two of those conventions – the 1995 and 1996 EU Conventions on Extradition. The Bill therefore provides for a system of simplified extradition where a person whose return is being sought consents to extradition in accordance with the 1995 Convention. It also provides, in accordance with the 1996 Convention, for an extended range of extraditable offences, for extradition in the case of revenue offences and for the modification of the rule of specialty as between the member states of the EU as well as providing for a central authority which will be responsible for receiving and transmitting extradition requests which in future will also be capable of being transmitted by facsimile.

The United Nations Convention on the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism was signed on behalf of Ireland on 15 October as an indication of our determination to proceed quickly with the legislation necessary to give it effect. Work on that legislation has already begun with a view to the submission of my proposals in the matter to Government and publication during the current session.

The Council of Ministers has asked member states to ratify the EU Mutual Assistance Convention on Criminal Matters and its Protocol during 2002. Work on the legislative proposals necessary for this purpose is proceeding with a view to those proposals being brought forward in 2002.

The House will already be aware that the European Council on 21 September approved a plan of action to counter terrorism. The plan called on member states to implement all existing inter national Conventions in the fight against terrorism. A similar call was contained in the UN Security Council resolution of 28 September. The Government intends to give effect to other United Nations Conventions relevant to the fight against terrorism which have not been ratified by Ireland to date as part of our response to the events of 11 September. Other legislative proposals which I will be bringing to Government are therefore intended to enable Ireland to become a party to the UN Conventions on the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings, Against the Taking of Hostages and on the Prevention and Punishment of Attacks on Internationally Protected Persons. Work is under way in my Department on framing the proposals necessary to give effect to those conventions and I would hope that it will be possible for those to be published during the current session. In addition, steps are being taken for Ireland to accede to the Convention on the Marking of Plastic Explosives for the Purpose of Detection, accession to which does not require legislative changes.
There are certain other measures in the area of money laundering arising from the conclusions of the Council of Ministers which I also hope to be in a position to progress in the short-term and which are likely to require either primary or secondary legislation to give them effect. These include the draft directive on the prevention of the use of the financial system for money laundering and other measures adopted by the EU to deal with countries which have been identified by the OECD financial action task force as non co-operative in the context of the fight against money laundering.
Work is also continuing within the European Union on taking forward other measures which were covered by the Council of Ministers conclusions and which will require legislation in due course. That work includes the negotiations on the proposed framework decisions on the approximation of member states criminal laws with a view to establishing a common definition of terrorism and common criminal sanctions and on the creation of a European arrest warrant on the basis of proposals initially tabled by the Commission. I have indicated before that the proposed measures raise difficult and complex issues for us and for other member states. I have also acknowledged that the proposal for a European arrest warrant, in particular, raises certain difficulties. Both my Department and I will continue to address the outstanding difficulties in that regard in the ongoing negotiations, which are still some distance from conclusion.