Proposed Government legislation to deal with the legacy of Northern Ireland’s Troubles risks widespread breaches of human rights law, a Westminster committee has found.
The Joint Committee on Human Rights has urged the Government to reconsider its approach following legislative scrutiny of the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill.
The bill has already passed through the House of Commons and is now set for consideration by the House of Lords.
The legislation proposes a form of amnesty for perpetrators of Troubles crimes in exchange for co-operation with a new truth recovery body.
The bill, if enacted, would also end investigations and civil proceedings related to the conflict.
The changes are opposed by political parties and victims’ groups in Northern Ireland, as well as the Irish government.
In its report, the cross-party committee warned that the bill’s approach risks fail to meet the minimum standards required to ensure effective investigations into Troubles-related cases concerning deaths and serious injury.
It stated that the right to life and the prohibition of torture under the ECHR require that the State undertake investigations into certain cases concerning deaths and serious harm which are independent, effective, reasonably prompt and expeditious, subject to public scrutiny, and involve the next- of-kin.
The committee has also expressed concern that closing down avenues to pursue truth and justice is a “high-risk strategy and places the UK at risk of non-compliance with Article 6 (right of access to a court) and Article 13 (right to an effective remedy)”.
It continued: “Criminal investigations, prosecutions, and inquests should be permitted to continue, and a more reasonable, longer limitation period should be provided for civil claims.”
Chairwoman of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, Joanna Cherry said: “Establishing a new framework for dealing with the legacy of the Troubles is a complex and difficult task, but that is why it is all the more important that the Government gets it right.
“A delicate balance needs to be struck between enabling reconciliation while taking steps to ensure that those still dealing with the devastating consequences of past events can access justice and effective remedies.
“We agree with many other stakeholders that this bill as drafted is unlikely to comply with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
“While we support the aim of reconciliation, we urge the Government to reconsider its entire approach.
“It’s crucial that the legislation ensures that investigations are independent, effective, timely, involve next of kin, and are subject to public scrutiny.
“Perpetrators of serious human rights violations should be able to be held to account.
“All possible avenues for the pursuit of justice and the provision of an effective remedy should be available to victims and their families.
“The Government must revisit this bill to ensure that it respects the human rights of all those affected and establishes a lasting framework for dealing with the legacy of the Troubles.”
An NIO spokesperson said: “The current mechanisms for addressing the past are delivering neither justice nor information to the vast majority of families.
“The legislation as a whole complies with our obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights and the Government continues to engage constructively with all stakeholders regarding their concerns, and how these might be addressed as the bill proceeds through parliament.”
- Sa'ar denies Likud talks, but says vote to renew civil law for settlers must pass
- Basic Japanese Civil Law - US News SkillBuilder
- Pamplin Media Group - Students in Sauvie Island gain experience with civil law
- Knesset debate over Civil Law in Israel threatens protections on settlers
- Civil rights attorneys, police review footage of Black man paralyzed in back of Connecticut police van