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Chief Commissioner comments on Finucane

01 Dec 2020

Chief Commissioner comments on Finucane

Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, Les Allamby commented:

“It is deeply concerning that yesterday’s decision by the Secretary of State causes further delay for the Finucane family over 30 years on from the death of Pat Finucane. The Supreme Court Judgment in 2019 clearly stated that there has not been an effective human rights inquiry into the death of Pat Finucane. The judgment concluded that the process put in place by the UK Government fell short of its obligations under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects the right to life. One of the components of a human rights compliant investigation is that it is timely and involves the family to the extent possible, bearing in mind anyone else involved’s own Article 2 rights. Neither factor seems to have been effectively addressed by the Secretary of State.

The onus remains on the Secretary of State to ensure an Article 2 right to life compliant inquiry is conducted as soon as possible into the death of Pat Finucane, in line with the judgment of the UK Supreme Court. The Commission will now write to the Secretary of State on this matter.”


Further Information

For further information please contact Claire Martin on: 07717731873 (028) 9024 3987 or by email on

Notes to editors

1. The European Convention on Human Rights requires an effective official investigation in respect of Article 2 the right to life. The Supreme Court judgment in 2019 noted: “Article 2 gives rise not merely to a duty not to kill people but, where there is an issue as to whether the state had broken this obligation, an obligation on the part of the state to carry out an effective official investigation into the deaths”.

2. The European Court of Human Rights (ECt.HR) has set out that such an investigation must include the following elements: (1) the investigation must be independent; (2) the investigation must be capable of leading to the identification of those responsible; (3) the investigation must be prompt; (4) there must be public scrutiny of the investigation or its results; and (5) the next-of-kin or the victim must be involved to the extent necessary to safeguard their interests. (Jordan v. the United Kingdom, Application No. 24746/94 (04 August 2001) paras 106-9).

3. The Commission raised the Finucane case in its May 2020 submission to the Committee of Ministers on the UK’s implementation of ECtHR judgments. Further info can be accessed here.

4. The Commissions advice to government on dealing with the past can be found here.

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