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15 November 2001 Edition

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Criminal justice system must be transformed

Sinn Féin Chairperson and Justice spokesperson, Mitchel Mc Laughlin, has welcomed the long awaited publication of the British government's Draft Legislation and its response to the Criminal Justice Review Group's recommendations.

"We will scrutinise the British response and Draft legislation meticulously to determine if it will address our concerns and if it can form the basis for creating a new ethos in the Criminal Justice System," said McLaughlin.

" It is now almost two years since the Criminal Justice Review published its recommendations and three and a half years since the Good Friday Agreement. At that time, Sinn Féin, while acknowledging that the report contained some interesting elements, concluded that it did not go far enough to constitute a genuine attempt to transform the Criminal Justice System in the context of a meaningful conflict resolution process.

"Having had the Report in its possession for such a long period the British government is finally publishing its response and Draft Legislation.

"In particular we will want to see how the legislation will approach the areas of:

Appointment of the Judiciary
An Independent Prosecution Service
Restorative Justice
Symbols, Flags and Emblems
How the make-up of the justice system will be representative of the community it serves
Youth Justice
"The litmus test of the British government response and draft legislation will be whether it represents a transformation of the Criminal Justice System that will gain republican and nationalist support and allegiance."

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