Monday, May 29, 2023

UK: UN disagrees with proposed immunity for Northern Ireland ‘troubles’

“These amendments must adequately guarantee respect for the rights of victims, survivors and their families,” Volker Turk said in a press release.

Acknowledging that the ‘troubles’ in Northern Ireland, a period of violence and political upheaval from the 1960s to the 1990s, was ‘an extremely complex and sensitive subject’, he nevertheless conceded that the bill, as presented , “seems inconsistent with the United Kingdom’s international human rights obligations”.

Immunity to serious human rights violations

The High Commissioner has already conveyed his observations to the British Government. These specifically pertain to provisions granting conditional immunity from investigation and prosecution to persons accused of serious violations of human rights and other international crimes other than sexual offences.

This immunity will thus be granted to persons who have not yet been convicted or indicted, on condition that they cooperate with a special commission created by the same law, entitled “Conciliation and retrieval of information”. There is an independent commission for Legal proceedings relating to this period of violence in Northern Ireland.

Volker Turk concluded, “Introducing conditional immunity in this way runs counter to the UK’s obligations under international human rights law to investigate and, where appropriate, prosecute and punish those allegedly responsible for serious human rights abuses.” Will run.”

The High Commissioner also questioned “the real capacity of this commission to act independently and conduct reviews and investigations in a manner consistent with human rights”.

“There are still concerns that the bill will undermine the rights of victims, survivors and their families to effective legal remedy and reparation, including barring most criminal prosecutions and civil actions for offenses related to the unrest,” Volker Turk he said.

Reconciliation requires respect for the rights of victims

The bill is up for further consideration at House of Lords committee level on 24 and 31 January.

Volker Turk, in this regard, expressed regret that the final text of the amendments was made public only a week before its passage before the House of Lords. “This does not allow the public and concerned stakeholders, including victims and survivors, sufficient time to review the amendments and to meaningfully participate in this very important legislative process,” the High Commissioner said.

‚ÄúReconciliation is essential to respect the rights of victims, survivors and their families to truth, justice, compensation and guarantees of non-repetition. Their rights must be placed at the center of all efforts to deal with the legacy of the Troubles,” he insisted.

The High Commissioner urged the UK to reconsider its approach and engage in further meaningful and inclusive consultations on “how to promote a human rights-centred way of confronting the legacy of the Troubles”.

Bright Times News Desk
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