Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) (Amendment) Bill 2014: Committee Stage

I welcome the Minister and her officials and ask all members to turn off their mobile telephones.

Sections 1 to 6, inclusive, agreed to.
Question proposed: "That section 7 stand part of the Bill."

This section relates to public provocation. We want to remove the clause of public provocation on the basis that it is too loose, general and open to misinterpretation. We are raising the matter now so that we can table an amendment on Report Stage.

Question put and agreed to.
Sections 8 to 11, inclusive, agreed to.

I move amendment No. 1:

In page 8, between lines 27 and 28, to insert the following:

“Transfer of data outside jurisdiction

12. Data may not be transferred to another jurisdiction for the purposes of it being used against an individual who has already stood trial and been acquitted in this jurisdiction.”.

I raised this matter on Second Stage and referenced the case of Frank McBrearty from Donegal who found himself arrested in America-----

I would prefer if the Deputy did not use names.

Frank McBrearty is a friend of mine and he would have no objection to me raising the issue. Even though he has been convicted of no charge, he was detained. In the case of anyone who has stood trial and been acquitted, we need to be careful about transfer of data and how the legislation applies. We may have data and details of citizens within the State and another jurisdiction may have a different approach.

I strongly support the amendment with regard to the transfer of data outside the jurisdiction. We must be careful with guidelines about civil liberties. The amendment is clear in referring to an individual who has already stood trial and been acquitted in this jurisdiction. It is important to be conscious of it because some jurisdictions do not have high standards in respect of human rights and civil liberties and we should be vigilant. With regard to the broader Bill------

There is a mobile telephone switched on. Deputy, we can come back to the broader discussion later. We will focus on the amendment now.

I strongly support it and we must be vigilant on this major issue.

The Deputy's amendment provides for the insertion of a new section in the Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) (Amendment) Bill prohibiting the transfer of data to another jurisdiction for the purpose of it being used against an individual who has already stood trial and been acquitted in this jurisdiction. On a technical point, the Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) (Amendment) Bill 2014, amends the Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) Act of 2005 with the inclusion of three new offences and the definition of terrorist linked activities. The 2005 Act is the parent Act with regard to terrorism.

In this Bill, any transfer of data to another jurisdiction is governed by EU law and the terms of the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism, the text of which is set out in Schedule 2 to the Bill. Paragraph 2 of Article 17 of the convention provides that parties will carry out their obligations in respect of international co-operation and criminal matters in conformity with any treaties or other agreements on mutual legal assistance that may exist between them. In the absence of such treaties and agreements, parties will provide assistance to one another in accordance with domestic law.

The legal advice from the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel is that the provisions of the Criminal Justice (Mutual Assistance) Act of 2008, as amended, apply in this case and no further provision is required in this Bill as proposed by the amendment. The Criminal Justice (Mutual Assistance) Act provides the legal framework for the provision of assistance that applies to offences across the Statute Book and it is appropriate for all requests for assistance and transfers of data to be dealt with in the context of the mutual assistance framework, which is used all the time, rather than in individual legislative provision. There are restrictions on providing the assistance contained in the Criminal Justice (Mutual Assistance) Act and, in the context of international agreements concerning mutual assistance arrangements to which the State is a party, that is the framework in which business is done and decisions are taken.

Data protection legislation also provides a certain amount of checks and balances on data protection and transfers of data. Requests for assistance and mutual assistance or the restrictions on it come under the mutual assistance legislation. Data protection legislation also applies and, together, they provide a sufficiently robust regime to protect data transfers. I will not accept the amendment. The advice from the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel is that it is appropriate that any requests for the exchange of information or assistance are dealt with under the Criminal Justice (Mutual Assistance) Act. If the Deputy has amendments to suggest, that is the Act that deals with it in a holistic way.

My understanding is that a Bill related to the Criminal Justice (Mutual Assistance) Act went through the Seanad recently. Is something happening in the Seanad with that Bill?

There is new legislation in the area and it is awaiting Dáil time.

The Minister is advising me that it is the more appropriate Bill for me to amend. I reserve the right to table the amendment on Report Stage.

Perhaps I can provide some information on where the other Bill is at.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 12 agreed to.
Schedules 1 and 2 agreed to.
Title agreed to.

May I speak to wrap up the Bill?

There is no wrap-up, as such.

I refer to this morning's session.

What do you mean?

I thought I was going to make a few general points to the Minister.

That does not happen on Committee Stage, unfortunately.

I know that, but the Chairman said earlier I could come back in.

I was mistaken, unfortunately. Deputy McGrath can make a general point now.

I was going to make a few general points, and I wanted to ask the Minister a question about the Dublin-Monaghan bombings.

We cannot do that.

May I make a few general points on the Bill?

Yes, but they have to be specific. They cannot be carried forward, because we have dealt with all of the sections.

I will come back to the Minister at a later date.

Bill reported without amendment.