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Right to silence had to yield to the right of the State to protect itself

By: Mark Tottenham BL

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Supreme Court dismisses appeal from High Court, and affirms determination that a legislative provision requiring certain persons to give an account of their movements was not repugnant to the Constitution, on the grounds that: (a) the right to silence was a corollary of the right to free expression; (b) there were already in existence many statutes requiring disclosure of information on pain of penal sanction; (c) the legislative provision in question only came into effect at times when there was a risk to the administration of justice and the preservation of public peace and order; (d) the right to silence had to yield to the right of the State to protect itself; and (e) the restriction on the right was proportional to the aims of the legislation.

O'Flaherty J (nem diss): Appeal from dismissal of claim challenging constitutional validity of legislation - s. 52 of theOffences Against the State Act 1939 - refusal by appellants to provide account of their movements - freedom of expression - Art 40 - whether right of freedom of expression could be abrogated or qualified - Misprision of Felony (concealment of a felony) - limits on right of silence - self-incrimination - requirements of disclosure in other statutes - duties to disclose - circumstances in which relevant section came into operation - proportionality of restriction on right to silence.

Note: This is intended to be a fair and accurate report of a decision made public by a court of law. Any errors should be notified to the editor and will be dealt with accordingly.

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