Brexit Engagement: Justice
David Patterson provided general overview:
- Important to note that Brexit does not include leaving the European Convention on Human Rights/European Court of Human Rights or the Council of Europe under which these were established (these institutions being entirely separate from the EU.
- The NICS’s position is based on the Joint Ministerial letter that was sent to the Prime Minister from the First and deputy First Minister when still in office.
- Joint Ministerial committee was established, one of the special measures taken for Brexit
- NICS has focused primarily on gathering information and analysis and scenario planning for all eventualities. When the White Paper was published, there was more clarity on potential scenarios.
Jo Wilson provided Department of Justice specific information:
- The Head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service, Sir Malcolm McKibbin, established the EU Future Relations Project within the Executive Office to:
- support the Executive’s engagement by ensuring Ministers are positioned to secure the best possible outcome for Northern Ireland;
- ensure that the UK government’s negotiation strategy has a full understanding of the NI issues and implications; and
- consider the implications for NI legislation, policy and resources.
- DoJ’s Permanent Secretary sits on this board, alongside the Permanent Secretaries for Economy, DAERA and Finance and other NICS senior leaders.
- DOJ have an operational group within the department including representatives from the PSNI and other law enforcement agencies. This is to discuss operational impacts.
The key priorities for the Department of Justice are:
- Maintaining the Common Travel Area: there is a risk that changes to the CTA and the border could become a catalyst for illegal activity, compromise the arrangements for criminal justice and tackling organised crime, and create an incentive for those wishing to undermine the peace process.
- Participation in the European Arrest Warrant: this provides speedy extradition arrangements between EU states.
- Continued access to criminal justice co-operation measures: Our land border with Ireland and our peace process mean that there is a unique dynamic to our use of EU criminal justice measures. DOJ want to maintain and build on the excellent co-operation between law enforcement agencies across the border.
- Ensuring effective reciprocal enforcement of civil and family court orders: these are a very significant tool in cross-border cases, for example allowing the placement of a child in Northern Ireland in another EU state.