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New York Ruling Raises Questions About Garda Surveilance
dublin | crime and justice | news report Monday February 26, 2007 13:55 by Dave Donnellan daviddonnellan at eircom dot net
Right to Peaceful Protest is Being Infringed by Gardai?
An important principle which emerged in the 1985 Handshu Agreement in New York was that Police have no right to investigate purely political activity. The ruling handed down last week by Judge Charles Haight of the New York Supreme Court forbids police from routine video-taping of people at public gatherings as it contavenes the spirit of the Hanshu Agreement. People involved in this country in purely peaceful, political protests will know that such Garda surveillance has become routine even though no criminal activity is present.
In the Hanshu Agreement there is a clear distinction between political activity, which the police have no right to investigate and criminal activity which it is their duty to investigate. Where there is a mix a warrant must be sought to justify the investigation. The ruling which forbids routine police video taping is an important statement of a principle which may also have ramifications in ireland. The right and indeed sometimes the duty to protest cannot be taken for granted. The Gardai may be overstepping the mark in the level of surveillance through video taping and still photography at purely political demonstrations.