Alliance Party Deputy Leader, Stephen Farry MP, has welcomed the intervention of United Nations Human Rights experts in which they express concern at the UK Government’s legacy proposals.
Following the intervention of the two experts – Fabián Salvioli, Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence and Morris Tidball-Binz, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions – Dr Farry stressed that it is self-defeating for the UK to diverge from international law and best practice.
He added: “This UN report is a powerful vindication of the opposition from local political parties, civic society and most of all victims to the UK Government’s legacy proposals. This is no longer just a rejection of these proposals from Northern Ireland stakeholders, but something of international concern.
“It confirms that the criminal justice route cannot be arbitrarily shut down. Amnesties are increasingly out of favour in transitional justice systems in different conflict zones around the world.
“In addition, the situation in Northern Ireland is governed by the European Convention on Human Rights. Recent case law has confirmed that amnesties are not consistent with the ECHR. Furthermore, it appears that investigations could not be consistent with Article 2 if they are conducted to a standard that would enable a prosecution to be taken forward if the evidential and public interest tests warranted that.
“It is hard to see how, if implemented, the Government’s proposals withstand legal challenge. Perhaps, this is factored in as part of a cynical game where the impact of this lands on another government. Or perhaps, the commitment to the ECHR itself is going to be breached.
“Instead, the UK should be providing international leadership on human rights and the rule of law. The Government should care that its proposals and actions undermine this. This in turn will impact its influence and credibility internationally, particularly given the range of current global challenges.
“It is not too late for the Government to backtrack and take these legacy proposals off the table.”