The Irish Council for Civil Liberties has warned that the use of body-worn cameras by gardaí is likely to breach privacy rights, affect a range of other rights and hinder community policing.

The council said body-worn cameras would potentially impact on the rights to free expression, free assembly and free association.

The ICCL said a person may decide not to take part in a protest if they know gardaí will be wearing the technology, or they may restrict what they say or with whom they associate for fear of being recorded.

It added that mass surveillance of the population is extremely problematic.

The council also cautioned that footage from proposed body-worn cameras, if used as evidence in court, could add unfair weight to the police version of events due to being under the exclusive control of the garda wearing it.

The rights group said that undue reliance on this evidence may impact on the right of suspects to be considered innocent until proven guilty.

The rights body has urged the Government to halt the roll-out of the technology and said the potential for intrusive data-gathering using such technologies was "beyond concerning".

ICCL's Senior Research and Policy Officer, Doireann Ansbro, said: "Body-worn cameras were first rolled out in the US, where police officers have repeatedly been accused of racist violence including the killing of young innocent black men.

"Bringing in these cameras in the US was promoted as a way to stop the race-based use of force. That is a very different context from the Irish one, where our police officers are generally unarmed."

In a submission to the Department of Justice and Equality, ICCL compiled seven justifications used by An Garda Síochána and the Department of Justice to support the roll-out of body-worn cameras and unpacked them all.

The campaign group said it found no evidence of international best practice standards on the use of body-worn cameras and found inconsistent and inconclusive findings relating to their impact on the use of force, contrary to the oft-cited Rialto study.

It said it could find "no evidence" that the technology increases admissions and early guilty pleas.

ICCL said that rather than increasing public trust and confidence, body-worn cameras may undermine recent progress made in reforming An Garda Síochána in line with human rights standards.

ICCL also disputed that the technology would automatically increase accountability and said it seemed unlikely its use would deescalate dangerous situations.

President of the Garda Representative Association Jim Mulligan has said gardaí have called for the use of body cams for a number of years and says it brings a level of transparency to policing.

Mr Mulligan told RTÉ's Today with Sean O'Rourke that Bodycams also assists in court trials and cases, reduces the number of complaints against gardaí and benefits the public.

He said the footage cannot be interferred with or erased.

Executive Director of the ICCL Liam Herrick said Bodycams  have "an obvious superficial appeal" but recent research from the UK and US questions a number of the benefits that are promised by the Bodycams. 

In addition, Mr Herrick said, they pose obvious risks to privacy.

The benefits that are promised, he said, are barely, if ever, delivered while fundamentally changing the relationship between the public and gardaí.