Extradition (European Union Conventions) Bill, 2001: Committee Stage.

Sections 1 to 4, inclusive, agreed to.
Question proposed: "That section 5 stand part of the Bill."

This section deals with the arrest of a person in the context of the legislation. One of our concerns about the extradition procedures is the safeguards in place in various jurisdictions in the context of arrests taking place. This section is silent on that matter with the exception of the statement that the suspect is to be informed of his or her alleged offences and so on. We would like an indication from the Minister of State regarding the safeguards in the legislation in this area because there is concern that no other EU member state has similar arrangements and there is a quite a disparity between jurisdictions in the way in which detainees are treated in terms of detention, interrogation and the judicial process.

Our way of dealing with extradition is different from other countries. Many provisions in our legislation have been developed over the years to protect suspects in custody to a greater degree than is the case in a number of other jurisdictions. I do not envisage a case similar to the recent one involving trainspotters in Greece occurring in this jurisdiction. The amendment relates to civil liberties.

The Senator is correct to seek to ensure people's rights are safeguarded. The same rights apply to detainees under this legislation as to all other persons in that a detainee is informed of his or her right to consult a solicitor and, in extradition proceedings, the Attorney General's scheme of legal aid is also available. However, a number of safeguards are provided in the legislation. Section 5 specifies the information to be provided to a detained person. Any waiver of rights is to be made before the High Court and must be shown to be have been made voluntarily and in full awareness of the consequences. The convention provides that the consent or renunciation may not be revoked but allows parties to opt out of this requirement by making a declaration to that effect on ratification. It is proposed that Ireland will make a declaration allowing revocations. Persons will not be extradited for the purpose of investigative detention and Ireland has a declaration in the new European arrest warrant to ensure its position. General and specific safeguards are provided in the legislation.

Question put and agreed to.
Sections 6 to 19, inclusive, agreed to.

I move amendment No. 1:

In page 18, to delete lines 27 to 37 and substitute the following:


(f) the deletion of sections 29(5) and 47(5)/”.

The principal Act has been amended in this section so that the rights of a suspect to appeal are diluted. Section 20(1)(f) states: “No appeal shall lie to the Supreme Court from an order of the High Court under this section, except on a point of law”. That is not the case under the principal Act. One can seek a substantive appeal along with an appeal on points of law. Why are the detainee's rights being diluted?

Rights are being provided, not diluted. Sections 29(5) and 47(5) of the 1965 Act provide that no appeal shall lie against an order of the Circuit Court under this section. However, we are providing an appeal to the Supreme Court on a point of law. The court will consider questions of incorrect interpretation in application of the law. Increased safeguards have been provided because cases will begin in the High Court, as the court of first instance, rather than in the District Court.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 20 agreed to.
Section 21 agreed to.

I move amendment No. 2:

In page 19, between lines 23 and 24, to insert the following:

"(2) An affidavit or statement sworn for the purposes of proceedings referred to in subsection (1) may not be relied upon by a party to those proceedings without leave of the High Court if another party to those proceedings has given notice of an intention to crossexamine the deponent and the first- mentioned party has failed to produce the deponent for cross-examination.".

We seek to provide protection regarding evidence by affidavit whereby an affidavit or a sworn statement for the purpose of the proceedings may not be relied upon if there is an intention to cross-examine the deponent or where the first-mentioned party has failed to produce the deponent for cross-examination. We wish to insert a caveat in the section.

A new subsection has been inserted to provide for the taking of evidence by affidavit. It allows rather than requires evidence to be given. The following subsection provides for the High Court in the interest of justice to call cross-examination. In all cases, irrespective of who is requesting to cross-examine, the High Court will have the power to give it. The discretion has been provided in the interest of justice and in the belief that the courts will act in the interest of justice.

Article 40.3 of the Constitution provides for the right to cross-examine. Provision is also made for the cross-examination of witnesses in the rules of the superior courts. The Bill allows for the discretion of the court to seek cross-examination and the Constitution also provides this protection.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 22 agreed to.
Section 23 agreed to.
Question proposed: "That section 24 stand part of the Bill".

I refer to evidence given via television link by a person outside the State. To what extent will this provision be used? Is it envisaged that other electronic means will be used for the provision of evidence?

The Bill states: ". . . may with the leave of the court give evidence through a live television link". The court has discretion and this does not prejudice any section relating to criminal proceedings or any provision contained in the Extradition Act. I presume the provision will aid efficient court management, security and the order to implement it must be made within a set number of days following the person's detention so as not to cause undue delay in the taking of evidence.

Question put and agreed to.
Section 25 agreed to.
Question proposed: "That section 26 stand part of the Bill."

The need to make a correction to this section has been brought to may attention. In page 21, line 15, the word "or" has been omitted before the phrase "alleged to have been committed". I ask the Chair to direct the Clerk of the Seanad to rectify the omission by making the necessary correction to the Bill as provided for under Standing Order 121, that is to insert the word "or" before "alleged to have been committed".

Acting Chairman

I so direct the Clerk.

Question put and agreed to.
Section 27 agreed to.
Schedules 1 and 2 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment, received for final consideration and passed.

Acting Chairman

When is it proposed to sit again?

At 10.30 a.m. tomorrow.