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14 May 2009 Edition

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Catholic experience of Criminal Justice unacceptable

A new report shows that Catholics in the North are more likely to face prosecution, to be remanded in custody and over-represented in the prison population and subject to discriminatory practices in prison.
The report by North’s Criminal Justice Inspectorate highlights institutional bias in the Criminal Justice System and confirms the belief amongst nationalists of an inherent bias that reaches across the Criminal Justice system.
While the implementation of the Patten recommendations will address the situation in regards to policing, the same diligence needs to be applied across the Justice system from the PPS to the recruitment of members of the Prison Service.
Comments attributed to police sources in the North that Catholic juveniles broke the law more often than Protestants – a claim rejected by the Inspectorate – are reprehensible and an indication of the work remaining to be done to achieve accountable and representative policing.
It is a scandal that Catholics should be subjected to any form of discrimination at any point of the process from arrest through consideration of charges by the PPS, access to bail while awaiting trial or the right to privileges while serving sentences.
The findings of the report come as no surprise to nationalists and only serve to highlight the need to transfer Policing and Justice powers from Britain to the North of Ireland as soon as possible.

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