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Amnesty to monitor Corrib protests after garda rape comment

HUMAN rights monitors are to oversee future protests at the controversial Corrib Gas project in north Mayo following the "rape" tape controversy.

The move follows revelations of an accidentally taped conversations in a patrol car during which a number of gardai are heard making joking remarks about sexually assaulting a woman.

Today, Justice Minister Alan Shatter said he wanted to assure victims of sexual offences and rape they will be dealt with appropriately by gardai.

The minister said he was awaiting the outcome of two investigations into the remarks being carried out by the Garda Ombudsman and the garda authorities and did not want to appear to pre-judge the matter.

The remarks followed the arrest of two women following a protest last Thursday at Aughoose, not far from the proposed pipeline route to the Corrib Gas terminal.

The controversial remarks were made during a private conversation between gardai and were not heard by the women when they were made. It was only afterwards the women discovered the remarks had been recorded on the women's video camera, which had been seized from the women and later returned.

"Just hearing them say, 'give me your name and address and I'll rape you...I'll definitely rape you'. We were both horrified," one of the victims said. Amnesty International yesterday described the language used in the reported recording as "deeply worrying". If verified, it suggested that some gardai do not take rape and sexual violence seriously, Amnesty said.

"It would also call into question the professional service that women can expect from the police," the Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland, Colm O'Gorman, said.



SERIOUS

Mr O'Gorman insisted that if the recordings were authenticated, the gardai themselves must recognise the seriousness of members using such language.

Welcoming the decision by the Garda Ombudsman Commission to investigate the incident, Mr O'Gorman urged the Commission to also examine concerns apparently raised in the recording that garda methods used to remove protestors from tractors were not in line with garda policy and training.

"We expect GSOC (Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission) to investigate this aspect of the recording as well, in order to determine if procedures and tools employed in the policing of the Corrib protests comply with garda policy and human rights standards.

"Amnesty International Ireland and Front Line (an Irish-based human rights body) intend to proceed with our plan to deploy human rights monitors in the coming weeks", Mr O'Gorman added.

Today, Minister Shatter said "it was of huge importance that in all circumstances in which members of the Garda Siochana were interacting with the general community that they are considered in the approach they take and are respectful of all individuals with whom they are in communication or with whom they are dealing".

See Gerry O'Carroll -- P29


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