Northern Ireland news

Concern raised about ex-paramilitary prisoner conditions

Solicitor Gavin Booth has voiced concerns about conditions being placed on former paramilitary prisoners

Lawyers have voiced fresh concerns about tough new conditions being imposed on former paramilitary prisoners.

The notification requirements are contained in the Counter Terrorism and Border Security Act 2019, which came into force earlier this year.

Under the new regulations some former prisoners are required to sign a register notifying police of personal details and movements.

Many former prisoners are already subject to stringent checks under the 2008 Counter Terrorism Act but these conditions have now been extended.

On release from jail prisoners serve a period on licence.

Under the new regulations fresh conditions are being imposed retrospectively, it is being argued.

Solicitor Gavin Booth, of Phoenix Law, who represents a group of former republican prisoners aligned to Saoradh, said these conditions can extend beyond the period of license, in some cases up to 20 years.

He said that some of those impacted were given suspended sentences at the time of conviction but are still expected to conform to the new regulations.

Mr Booth said a breach of the regulations can result in arrest and up to five years in prison if convicted.

The conditions include providing the PSNI with an email addresses, phone numbers, notifying police of any vehicle owned or driven and handing over bank account details.

It is understood that three different legal challenges have recently been launched.

Mr Booth said “these regulations are clearly a breach of our client’s fundamental rights to freedom of movement and the right to a family life”.

“It also affects their right to work and ability to live a life free from harassment,” he said.

The solicitor said the new regulations may also be applied to anyone convicted in relation to incidents which took place before the Good Friday Agreement was signed in 1998.

“Anybody convicted of an offence now will be subject to these most draconian regulations” he said

Republican party Saoradh said in a statement.

“It’s hardly imaginable to most people that they would be expected to sacrifice the most private details of their lives to the state.

“This has a massive detrimental impact in psychological terms, with constant pressure of being surveilled and watched."

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