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Our View: Deputies must pass wiretap bill to combat financial crime

AS WE have written many times, the human rights concept is taken to such absurd extremes that it often prevents enforcement of the law, protecting all types of law-breakers. There have been many cases thrown out of court or verdicts overturned by the Supreme Court because evidence was considered a violation of a defendant’s human rights and therefore inadmissible. This is probably because when laws were first drafted, the human rights convention was not an integral part of the justice system in the way it has been in the last couple of decades.

Lawmakers have not helped things by often blocking or amending bills, aimed at bolstering law enforcement, on the grounds that they constituted a violation of human rights. Cynics would claim the many lawyers in the legislature had ulterior motives for showing such excessive sensitivity to individual rights – weak laws would help them defend their clients successfully – but it is not necessarily the case. Many deputies like to show off their ultra-democratic sensitivities which they value much higher than effective law enforcement.

Justice minister Ionas Nicolaou is currently trying to persuade political parties to support a bill that would allow the lifting of confidentiality on communications – emails and text messages – in financial affairs, but said he was encountering difficulties. He would be in consultations with the political parties over the next few months in an attempt to secure their support for the bill. The first reactions by deputies, he said, were worrying, but he hoped he would eventually persuade them about the importance of supporting the bill.

Does a minister really have to persuade the political parties about the need to give the authorities the legal tools to effectively combat financial crime? Do deputies really need convincing about such a clear-cut issue? Why does law enforcement in Cyprus have to be hampered by the protection of the rights of suspected criminals? All advanced democratic countries provide the legal tools to ensure effective enforcement of the laws without being any less democratic than Cyprus.

It is ironic that the same deputies who are constantly moaning about corruption and the dishonest bankers that destroyed the economy, are more concerned about taking theoretical stands on rights than helping the authorities catch the culprits. Allowing police investigators legal access to the private communications of suspects in financial crime and using this as evidence in court should be standard practice. It is so in countries where there is a rule of law and nobody there has been complaining that human rights were being violated.

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