UK plan to end Trouble prosecution “may violate international law” | North Ireland
Boris Johnson’s plan to impose a statute of limitations to end all unrest-related prosecutions before 1998 could violate international law, a European human rights commissioner has told the government.
Dunja Mijatović of the Council of Europe wrote to Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Brandon Lewis, saying the UK’s proposals appear indistinguishable from an unconditional amnesty for those not yet convicted.
In a letter, the Council’s Commissioner for Human Rights wrote that the UK’s proposal to introduce a statute of limitations for all unrest-related crimes would end all ongoing and future prosecution attempts.
“I am concerned about these proposals, which could bring the UK into conflict with its international obligations, including the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR),” she wrote.
“The general and unconditional nature of the amnesty in your proposal actually means that none of those involved in serious violations will be held to account, which will lead to impunity.
“Beyond the impact on justice for victims and their families… it is also deeply problematic from the point of view of access to justice and the rule of law,” she said. .
In July Lewis announced his intention to end all prosecution of the Troubles incidents until April 1998, which would apply to military veterans as well as ex-paramilitaries.
The proposals, which Johnson said would allow Northern Ireland to “end the unrest”, would also end all inquiries and civil actions related to the conflict.
This would mean that there would be no future prosecutions against Republican and Loyalist paramilitaries or against former British soldiers and police.
While some Tory MPs have welcomed the proposals because they would ensure that British soldiers are not subject to possible prosecution, the Irish government, the five main parties in Northern Ireland, including Sinn Féin and the DUP, Labor and victims’ groups have condemned the plans, with several describing it as a “de facto amnesty for the killers”.
More than 3,500 people have died in the conflict, which spanned from the early 1970s to the Good Friday accord in 1998, while tens of thousands more were injured.
In a response to Mijatović, Lewis seems to indicate that the government has no fixed position on the application of a possible limitation period.
“By publishing our proposals for addressing the legacy of Northern Ireland’s past in the 14 July command document, we were clear that these were not intended to represent a final position but rather to inform a process. commitment. This engagement – which involves meeting with political representatives, representatives of the victim sector and directly with victims and survivors – is ongoing, ”he wrote.