The Secretary General of the Council of Europe (COE) has reiterated that the CPT will take `due account’ of the issue of the use of military forces to assist the policing of civil protest during its visit to Ireland in 2010.
The Celtic League had repeated concerns first articulated to the COE, police and prisons inspectorate, the CPT, earlier this year.
The League had urged the Council of Europe to ensure that guidance in relation to the disproportionate use of military forces in police roles was applied equitably in respect of both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland following criticisms of the UK in a 2008 report.
The Celtic League raised concerns following the deployment of several naval units to assist the policing of civil protests at Broadhaven Bay, Co Mayo. The Celtic League believes that the use of the military in that instance was both disproportionate and inappropriate.
The COE make it clear that the issue is taken seriously. They say that the Council of a Europe as a whole subscribes to the line put forward in the 2008 UK report.
Reading between the lines in ‘diplo-speak’ this is as close to a condemnation of the Irish actions at Broadhaven yet articulated (see below):
DIRECTORATE GENERAL OF HUMAN RIGHTS
AND LEGAL AFFAIRS
DIRECTORATE OF MONITORING
Please quote: DG-HL/CG/PO 061
Strasbourg, 29 January 2010
Dear Mr Moffat,
Thank you for your letter of 9 January 2010 addressed to the Secretary General, in which you recall your previous correspondence relating to the deployment by the Irish government of military forces to assist the policing of civil protest at Broadhaven Bay, Co Mayo. You also refer to the recently published report of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) on their 2008 visit to the United Kingdom, in which the Committee commented on the use of military forces in law enforcement tasks.
As regards the events in Broadhaven Bay, I note that the CPT assured you, by letter of 30 March 2009, that it will take due account of the matter in the context of its ongoing dialogue with the Irish authorities. You will also be aware that the OPT is carrying out a visit to Ireland in 2010.
More generally, the Council of Europe as a whole fully subscribes to the line put forward by the CPT in its report on the 2008 visit to the United Kingdom.
Related links (correspondence with CPT) on Celtic News: