Incompatibility of emergency laws in NI with International human rights law

Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 March 2021

In May 1999, in his Report on the Operation in 1998 of the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1996 Mr John Rowe QC, the independent adviser appointed by the Government to oversee the emergency laws, drew the Government’s attention to the fact that a number of the EPA’s provisions may well infringe the European Convention on Human Rights. Nevertheless, in June 1999 the Government went ahead and renewed the EPA for a further year. In July 1999 the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) met with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Dr Marjorie Mowlam, to express its serious concern at the Government’s action. The Commission felt that the action was particularly unfortunate in light of the United Kingdom’s claims to the European Court of Human Rights in both Brogan v UK (1989) 11 EHRR 117 and Brannigan v UK (1994) 17 EHRR 539 regarding the value in having an independent adviser as an additional safeguard against abusive emergency laws.