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Corrib human rights report calls for new policing guidelines

Corrib human rights report calls for the establishment of new policing guidelines

Áine Ryan

A HUMAN rights report into the policing of the controversial Corrib Gas project has recommended the establishment of new policing guidelines. Specifically, the report recommends that the Department of Justice publish a guide defining methods that may be legitimately used by An Garda Síochána during protests that range from non-violent and non-compliant actions to violent actions.
The report on The Corrib Human Rights Monitoring Initiative states this guide would help ensure that gardaí ‘respect and fulfil the right to peaceful protests and exercise their legal duty and responsibility to prevent, detect and investigate crime and to safeguard the right of others to public order and security’. The guide would also clarify issues surrounding protests on private grounds and acceptable procedures for private security personnel. 
The report by international group, Frontline Defenders, is the result of a six-month project undertaken with Amnesty International Ireland, during which observer, Sarah Bassiuioni, met with a wide range of stakeholders, including protest groups, Shell E&P Ireland, private security personnel and the gardaí.
Among its series of recommendations is a proposal that Shell ‘communicates to the community the purposes for which surveillance may be undertaken by its security service’ and the procedures and safeguards it uses ‘to ensure the right to privacy is adequately protected’ during surveillance. This is in light of the large number of allegations made against I-RMS (Integrated Risk Management Services), Shell’s security company, whose personnel have been accused on several occasions of intrusively filming local people as they went about their everyday routines.
In a statement by Shell yesterday, a company spokeswoman said: “We note the recommendation relating to what the report describes as ‘surveillance’ undertaken by our security provider.  Unfortunately, the nature of the protests directed against the Corrib project means that our staff and our property are subject to ongoing threats. Therefore, like many other businesses in the country, we employ security staff and monitor threats to our work sites.”
The statement said the work by I-RMS was ‘carried out to the highest standards’ and in accordance with the law.
The report also recommended that the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) formally examines policing practises and procedures used, since this dispute has been the single greatest cause of complaints to the body. 
Speaking yesterday, Vincent McGrath of Pobal Chill Chomáin said this proposal was previously mooted by GSOC and human rights barrister Brian Barrington in an earlier report.
“We fully support such a recommendation but are aware this call was made before and was turned down by the late Brian Lenihan when he was Minister for Justice,” Vincent McGrath said.

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