Sunday, September 28, 2008

Victims and criminals: who to protect?

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Madeleine McCann Process: Rights of Paedophiles and Witnesses

by Gonçalo Amaral, former coordinator of the Judiciary Police

Measures for the limitation of personal rights are being adopted against paedophilia – such as professional restrictions to prevent working with children.

In some countries there is an obligation for those condemned of paedophilia, once their sentence has been served, for the authorities to be informed as regards change of address or trips abroad. In other countries chemical castration is talked of. These restrictive measures, according to some, are aimed at protecting children.

As regards rights, situations occur that at first sight, are incomprehensible. A few months ago, a crime trial [Madeleine McCann Process] was made public, in which care was taken to “hide” the identities of condemned paedophiles who were resident in Portugal or who were there on holiday. As in our country there is no obligation for paedophiles to inform their address or travel, such a decision appears to be legally right.

What can not be understood is how the identity of hundreds of witnesses as well as their families, addresses, place of work and telephone numbers of those who have just complied with their civil duty of providing witness statements can come to be known. Do paedophiles, even those who have been condemned, have more rights than a mere witness?

Source: Correio da Manhã
Translation by Ines

Related: The British secret files (I) by Paulo Reis and Duarte Levy

On July 17, 2008, the head of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) sent a letter to the Public Prosecutor Melchior Gomes, after a meeting with him, complaining about the intention of Portuguese authorities to give access to third parties to informations sent by British police to PJ, because, among other reasons, a large part of the intelligence reports from British police had unsubstantiated information related with identifiable persons. The letter was reviewed by William Hughes, head of Serious Organized Crime Agency (SOCA) and is signed by Ken Jones, chairman of ACPO. The arguments on this letter are exactly the same that were used, latter, by Portuguese lawyers, hired to present a formal request to Portuguese authorities, asking for those informations to remain confidential, according to the investigation files.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), the Chief Constable of Leicestershire, the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), Crimestoppers and several British police forces and judicial bodies presented a formal request to the Portuguese Public Prosecutor's Office to keep secret almost all the information made available by those organizations to PJ.

One of the most prestigious Portuguese legal offices – “Morais Leitão, Galvão Teles, Soares da Silva and Associates” - was hired to present the request with those demands, after the Public Prosecutor's Office issued the statement declaring the case shelved, on July 21, 2008.

Privacy rights in danger

They justified the request, presented on July 23, 2008, because most of the information was sent to PJ by informal channels, not following the formal procedures of “Letters of Request”, and argued that making public such information as personal data could collide with privacy rights.

There was also the risk of jeopardizing future British police investigations, because some information was related with techniques and strategies used by British police. Advise from National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) was quoted as an example. Also, shared intelligence reports should not be made public, for obvious reasons, said the lawyers representing those organizations.

The request pointed also to large amount of data sent by Crimestoppers. As the protection of the identity of sources of information is basic, for the work of Crimestoppers, the lawyers argued that not keeping it secret would be a breach of the rules of cooperation defined between authorities and those sources.

Future cooperation at risk

The formal request emphasized that not respecting these limits, when access to files was given, could seriously undermine all future cooperation with Portuguese Judicial bodies. It's even argued that the referred British institutions and police forces would never have sent that information to PJ, if they had any doubts about the commitment of Portuguese authorities to keep it confidential.

Resuming the request, the lawyers asked for all information sent without a “Letter of Request” to be kept secret or, if Portuguese authorities didn't accept this demand, to reduce it just to personal data concerning suspected and registered sexual offenders and all information sent by Crimestoppers. They also requested a CD copy of all investigation files, in order to evaluate the specific information sent by the British police forces, judicial bodies and other institutions. A final demand was to suspend all access to the investigation files, until the request was decided.

by Joana Morais


mandarinn said...

Isto cheira cada vez pior.....parece que alguém na terra dos bifes necessita deseperadamente de esconder alguma coisa.Na minha opinião , é o conhecimento "desse algo" que dá o inusitado poder aos pais da criança. Tudo isto é tão perfido que se algum dia se souber toda a verdade muita gente deve morrer de vergonha, se é que essa gente a tem.

Cláudia said...

Olá, Mandarinn.
Tens razão. Cheira bastante mal, de facto. Mas mesmo assim, espero que um dia tudo se saiba, independentemente das vergonhas...

viv said...

Hiya Claudia

This is the way that British authorities work. Agencies such as Police, Social Service and Probation, in addition to the ones listed in your article receive all sorts of information about people that does not necessarily lead to criminal charges being laid, particularly if there is insufficient to mount a criminal prosecution. Often there will also be ongoing investigations where the police are already aware of several offenders but they are not apprehended or made aware of police knowledge because that would damage the investigation.

What these confidential files do is address risk, if the authorities are aware of people who may potentially be paedophiles, drug dealers etc, they can be covertly watched and in this way others protected. The UK is renowned for arresting people before any major crime has actually been committed, e.g. in cases of terrorism, this is due to all the secret information that is collected and analysed, not warning those who are being analysed. I can certainly understand the authorities in UK wishing to keep this information confidential! Heaven knows what is involved but I can certainly hazard a guess.

Why do doctors and surgeons stop working in their chosen profession in the UK but the GMC still allows them to keep their registration? Sometimes there is knowledge of wrongdoing but not enough to prosecute and if the GMC suspended the registration that would be tantamount to finding them guilty of something they have not been brought court for. But still these people pose a risk and as soon as there is a good chance of conviction and without tipping of others, their time comes!

Thanks for such an interesting article!

Viv x

Anonymous said...

Também concordo com o facto de cada vez mais cheirar muito pior.
Tantas evidências....mas foi muitissimo e altamente planeado e controlado pelos bifes.Diria que oderá ser um grande segredo de Estado de Uk,para não vir de modo agum a podridão dos seres que estão bem colocados nos seus "empregos" e que tudo esconde mesmo enormes monstruosidades.Muitos esqueletos nos armários de uk.

O que nos move é a Esperança!

Mas,por vezes " a esperança é vã!

Ou,"enquanto há vida,há esperança".

Que não esperemos em vão,neste caso

tão dramático(para a Pequenina addie) como obscuro e sombrio....

Ainda não vi os vídeos que colocou ontem.Fica para mais logo.
Tudo de bom!

Cláudia said...

Hi, Viv! :-)
What Mr Amaral was questioning was the fact that simple witnesses in the investigation had their personal data released (some of them have allegedly even been contacted by private detective agencies), while there was this enourmous concern about keeping sex offenders' details secret.
Interesting double standards, to say the least, as Mr Amaral discusses in his opinion article!
Nice to read you here, my dear friend!

Cláudia said...

Olá, S.
Pode ser que um dia destes caia um governo e as coisas se tornem mais claras. Quem sabe?
Os vídeos são interessantes, fantásticos e até emocionantes, mas têm de ser vistos com tempo.
Um óptimo dia!

ICantThinkOfAName said...


Gary Glitter banned from travelling to France and Spain

But not Portugal. Perhaps he didn't apply to go there?

Cláudia said...

Hi, ICTOAN, I certainly hope that freak isn't thinking of coming here. Yikes!

viv said...

Hiya Claudia

I suppose I look at this through the eyes of someone who has always worked in the British Criminal Justice System.

It is the procedure in Portugal to release details of case files once the investigation stage has been completed. This is very different to what would happen in the UK. In a case like the McCanns, where they know they are involved but cannot at that stage proceed with a prosecution, the file would be remain a confidential police file. We also have laws preventing those who are to be prosecuted from harassing witnesses and would not disclose their addresses to defendants either. Having this matter dealt with in two different jurisdictions with very different ways of doing things has caused problems and meant that witness details have been disclosed.

As part of the criminal investigation with the co-operation of UK authorities, confidential information that they hold about offenders or those merely suspected of offending have been disclosed to the Portuguese Police. It is this information the UK authorities have particularly sought to protect because it could damage ongoing investigations. Additionally there is the problem of people becoming aware that police and others have data about them that they never knew about. They may start complaining their Human Rights are being abused but if authorities did not keep these sources of information we could have another Huntley moving about and not having the risks he is presenting adequately coming to the notice of the powers that be. A lot of further systems were put in place specifically because of him to make sure we do keep all information about those who pose a serious risk of harm, regardless of whether they are prosecuted or not. But this does create a problem if the person actually gets to know about it! On the one hand we say in the UK we fiercely protect Human Rights and are open and transparent but when it comes to criminals or those suspected of crime it can be another matter. Having said that we do know that there are many in the UK who only have to suspect someone is a paedophile to take vigilante action against them. So it is true that there are occasions when the Police and other authorities will actually wish to keep their identity secret to protect them from the public. This is a difficult situation the public have rights to, but some of the actions of vigilantes can amount to even burning houses down and killing those suspects, we clearly cannot allow this to take place.

Sex offenders are monitored by police probation often Social Services too but it is dealt with in a confidential way. For example it is quite usual that when a sex offender is released from prison there are stringent requirements that he cannot even move back to the same county as a child victim, he cannot live near to a school or have any contact with children etc but the public are not told about this.

If the McCanns do seriously interfere with potential prosecution witnesses then UK Police are going to know about that! True they may have been contacted but will have already given a statement to the Police and if they changed their evidence could be charged with perjury so they are not going to do that. I think the issue is Kate and Gerry want/need to know what the evidence against them is. From a criminal's point of view that is entirely understandable, they wish to take counter measures! I think the major point of their so called private investigators is to find so called witnesses who will say something entirely different to potential prosecution witnesses e.g. they saw a little blond girl who looked just like Maddie, they saw a creepy man hanging around etc! Clarence Mitchell even admitted such "witnesses" had been paid by M3 - in a court of law their "evidence" would be completely worthless, it is purely for McCann propoganda

Viv x

Cláudia said...

Hi, Viv.
I understand that the way you see these things is obviously different from the way people who have no legal background do.
I personally think that convicted sexual child abusers should be forbidden to leave their countries of origin, no matter what your nationalities are. Citizens from other countries shouldn't have to worry about having to deal with Portuguese paedophiles because they have their own child molesters to deal with. We, in Portugal, shouldn't have to deal with paedophiles from other countries because we have our own monsters to deal with. I know that may put in question some Human Rights. But when a child's safety is at risk, I don't give a damn about a paedophile's Human Rights.
Always great to read you here! :-)

ICantThinkOfAName said...


I thought you might be interested by what has just been posted on 3A by sans_souci.

There have been several recent threads concerning the FSS, Robert Murat, the UK Governmen, Leicester Police, conspirace and corruption. many have said that nothing should be excluded from discussion.

So here is another thought to discuss.

It has been suggested that there may be some high level corruption to cover this case in secrecy. To prevent it from being investigated properly.

the general assumption from those posters who subscribe in some way to this view is that the Mccanns are being protected for some reason by the UK government or some influential brits, with or without nuclear or peadophile involvement. But why target someone in Portugal.

I have been doing a bit of free thinking. It is not impossible that if (ok, a big if) there is any high level involvement it could be much closer to home, in the shape of a coverup by the Portugese establishment. Corruption and paedophilia occur in all countries. It is not impossible that something happened on that night in May 2007. Surprise at the amount of publicity and press involvement.

That there was a good deal of scurrying around to make sure the investigation made a lot of noise but not a lot of action. That Amaral was removed because he was a loose cannon and getting bit close to finding the truth, and silenced with a charge against him and "early retirement". Replaced with someone more politically aware and controllable. And pressure brought to bear by leaks from the portugese press. A compliant public prosecutor reviewing the evidence, followed by the shelving of the case may keep those involved out of the frame, probably permanently.

Where do the McCanns come in? No idea. Maybe involved, maybe as innocent victims, maybe under pressure. Don't know.

Cláudia said...

Hi, ICTOAN. Thank you for your post.
That poster and I agree on probably 1% of the stuff about this case. LOL
As you know, I'm not much of a conspiracy theorist. Moreover, I believe Mr Amaral which takes the simple approach to it. I think that the political interference is undeniable. It's all over the place, really. I'm skeptical about the bigger conspiracy theories. But I can't say that there is much that could surprise me about this case anymore.

Anonymous said...

Which confirms no request was made to keep the vile aspertions cast upon David Payne 'secret'.

It was widely reported throughout forums that, according to a MW employee, the identify of one person present would 'blow peoples' minds'. It's fair to assume that their identity was requested to remain secret.

Cláudia said...

Anon, yes, at that time, all kinds of rumours were flying around.