No-deal Brexit would have serious consequences for victims and witnesses of crime

A no-deal Brexit would disrupt cross-border police co-operation on the island of Ireland, with serious consequences for victims and witnesses of crime, researchers have warned.

Academics at the University of Glasgow, the University of Strathclyde and Queen’s University Belfast were commissioned by the statutory human rights commissions north and south of the border to examine justice arrangements after Brexit.

The research focuses on justice and security cooperation measures across five areas including the European Arrest Warrant (EAW), policing and prosecution cooperation, and data sharing tools such as the European Criminal Records Information System and Passenger Name Records.

The report has a particular focus on the human rights implications of potential changes in justice arrangements.

Should the UK leave without a deal, the report states there will be immediate consequences for the ability of the UK to participate in EU-led justice and security measures, while the EU Withdrawal Agreement at least makes provision for a transitional period.

Drawn from interviews with experts directly involved in policing and post-Brexit justice arrangements, the research findings make clear that Brexit fallback options will lead to inefficiency and ineffectiveness, bringing negative impacts and outcomes for victims and witnesses of crime, as well as hampering efforts of those who seek to defend against criminal activity.

The report makes thirteen separate recommendations for a future UK-EU security and justice relationship that also prioritises human rights protections.

Les Allamby, chief commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, said: “The research findings mirror what has recently been said by senior police officers in Northern Ireland, namely, that a disorderly Brexit will have significant detrimental policing and criminal justice implications.

“The new UK Government has said very little about how these issues will be managed in a no-deal situation, and how existing rights, safeguards, oversight and accountability will be maintained. We should not be playing fast and loose with these issues.”

Emily Logan, chief commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, said: “While seemingly absent from public discussion on Brexit, the significance of UK-EU justice and security cooperation and the threats from it breaking down cannot be ignored considering the needs of victims of crime, witnesses of crime and the efforts of police services to safeguard people.

“This research brought forward by the Joint Committee makes it clear that if we are to have functioning justice cooperation post Brexit, ensuring common adherence to human rights standards is essential.”

Tags: Brexit, NIHRC, IHREC

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