The Northern Ireland Chief Commissioner for Human Rights has raised concerns regarding the human rights compliance of the ‘Addressing the Legacy of Northern Ireland's Past’ proposals put forward by the UK Government.
Les Allamby, Northern Ireland Human Rights Chief Commissioner commented:
“These proposals appear to disregard the requirements for an effective investigation under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The decision to halt existing inquests and other civil actions also raises profound issues about the veracity of the rule of law.
The Human Rights Commission has long advised that any legislation introduced by the UK government regarding the investigation of violations and abuses of the right to life or freedom from torture, inhuman or degrading treatment that occurred during the conflict must not amount to a de facto amnesty. This includes any proposed introduction of a statute of limitations or other undue or insurmountable barriers to the prospect of prosecutions. Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights includes a requirement to ensure investigations which are thorough and secure meaningful accountability.
Four years ago at the request of the NIO the Commission provided formal advice in response to a House of Commons Defence Select Committee report which recommended considering a ‘statute of limitations’ as one option for moving forward. At that time, we advised that such an approach would be incompatible with human rights law.
We will scrutinise the proposals in full and will continue to advise the UK Government of its obligations to all the victims of the conflict and their families. We want to ensure that legislation, and any resulting mechanisms to deal with addressing the past in Northern Ireland are fully compliant with domestic human rights law and international human rights standards.”