Judiciary Reform: Northern Ireland Good Friday Agreement

Strand Three: Policing and Justice

4. The participants believe that the aims of the criminal justice system are to:

  • deliver a fair and impartial system of justice to the community;
  • be responsive to the community’s concerns, and encouraging community involvement where appropriate;
  • have the confidence of all parts of the community; and deliver justice efficiently and effectively.

5. There will be a parallel wide-ranging review of criminal justice (other than policing and those aspects of the system relating to the emergency legislation) to be carried out by the British Government through a mechanism with an independent element, in consultation with the political parties and others. The review will commence as soon as possible, will include wide consultation, and a report will be made to the Secretary of State no later than Autumn 1999. Terms of Reference are attached at Annex B.

6. Implementation of the recommendations arising from both reviews will be discussed with the political parties and with the Irish Government.

7. The participants also note that the British Government remains ready in principle, with the broad support of the political parties, and after consultation, as appropriate, with the Irish Government, in the context of ongoing implementation of the relevant recommendations, to devolve responsibility for policing and justice issues.

Annex B: Review of the Criminal Justice System

Terms of Reference

Taking account of the aims of the criminal justice system as set out in the Agreement, the review will address the structure, management and resourcing of publicly funded elements of the criminal justice system and will bring forward proposals for future criminal justice arrangements

(other than policing and those aspects of the system relating to emergency legislation, which the Government is considering separately) covering such issues as:

  • the arrangements for making appointments to the judiciary and magistracy, and safeguards for protecting their independence;
  • the arrangements for the organisation and supervision of the prosecution process, and for safeguarding its independence;
  • measures to improve the responsiveness and accountability of, and any lay participation in the criminal justice system;
  • mechanisms for addressing law reform;
  • the scope for structured co-operation between the criminal justice agencies on both parts of the island; and
  • the structure and organisation of criminal justice functions that might be devolved to an Assembly, including the possibility of establishing a Department of Justice, while safeguarding the essential independence of many of the key functions in this area.
  • The Government proposes to commence the review as soon as possible, consulting with the political parties and others, including nongovernmental expert organisations. The review will be completed by Autumn 1999.

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