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9 January 2003 Edition

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Diplock Courts should be abolished not extended

Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Gerry Kelly has expressed concerns at reports that the British government intends to extend the use non-jury courts.

"It is ridiculous that at a time when the British government should be seeking to abolish the use of non-jury courts, they are instead seeking to extend their use," he said.

"The history of non-jury courts have shown that they are wide open to the abuse of power by the judiciary and have resulted in countless miscarriages of justice.

"The abuse of the Diplock Court system went hand in hand with a culture within the RUC that felt it could operate with impunity. Such an approach to justice must be broken if we are to create a new beginning to policing and to the creation of a justice system that everyone can put their trust in and that will treat everyone with impartiality.

"The refusal of the British government to abolish Diplock Courts for all offences runs contrary to their obligations under the Good Friday Agreement and their extension of the use of non-jury trials will undermine the development of human rights in this part of Ireland."

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