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Justice Committee: Judges should receive minority related ‘culture competency training.’

The Oireachtas Justice Committee has recommended that all people working in the courts system, including courts services staff, lawyers, and judges receive “culture competency training to understand how to work across different cultures and to tackle the unconscious bias that may exist and the assumptions they may hold about those from a different background.”

The recommendation is one 27 wide-ranging recommendations outlined in the Committee’s Report on Minorities Engaging with the Justice System.

The Report also recommends that NGO’s and other organisations working directly with individuals from minority groups have access to ‘adequate resourcing’ in order to ‘raise awareness and ensure access to justice.’

Additional recommendations from The Committee include a request that diversity training programmes should include ‘an experiential exercise’ and should involve representatives from within minority communities being part of or presenting elements of this training first-hand.

It also recommends that the composition of juries be examined to ensure a broad societal representation is being achieved, ‘inclusive of minority interests’ and that an action plan to address gaps arising should be identified.

The following recommendations are also contained within the Report:

  • That a task force for the migrant youth be established to understand and determine the key issues affecting this group to help inform the criminal justice system.
  • The Committee recommends that access to services should be ensured for minority groups under anti-discrimination legislation.
  • The Committee recommends that a review of the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994 and the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1992 be undertaken to consider whether an assessment of accommodation need should be performed prior to implementing the 24-hour removal period.
  • The Committee recommends that consideration be given to the introduction of the role of ‘cultural mediator’ in State Justice Agencies, to ensure an accessible service for minority communities.

Summarising the Report, Committee Chair, James Lawless (FF) noted that as “Ireland has become more diverse in recent years, it has become more important than ever to be aware of the particular challenges facing individuals from minority groups when they engage with the justice system and to evaluate how their experiences could be improved upon.”

The full Report from the Oireachtas Justice Committee can be read here:

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