Uninvestigated Northern Ireland killings 'tarnish UK's reputation'

时间:2019-11-16 责任编辑:木後 来源:澳门赌博网址导航 点击:85 次

The government’s failure to carry out adequate investigations into killings more than 20 years ago involving the security forces in has been condemned by a parliamentary watchdog.

In a report praising the UK for implementing most judgments from the European court of human rights in Strasbourg, the warns that delays in a few cases are tarnishing the country’s international reputation.

The committee highlights three areas of insufficient progress: lethal force cases from the 1980s and 1990s during the Troubles, retention of suspects’ DNA in Northern Ireland and prisoner voting rights.

The report notes: “The effective investigation of cases which are the legacy of the Troubles in Northern Ireland has proved a particularly intractable problem in practice because it is so intimately bound up with the much larger question of dealing with the past in a post-conflict society.”

Many of the cases where inquests or inquiries were repeatedly delayed, such as the killing of the Belfast lawyer Pat Finucane, involve allegations of collusion with the security forces.

Promises made in the Stormont House agreement last year may eventually deliver justice, the committee says, adding: “We are particularly concerned by the prospect that it may be two years before the new historical investigations unit starts its work.

“As well as having fewer resources at its disposal than its predecessor, the legacy investigations branch cannot itself satisfy [human rights] requirements … because of its lack of independence from the police service.

“We also recommend that the parties to the agreement publish a more detailed plan [with] … more specifics about how the delays in legacy inquests will be overcome, and more detail about precisely how the additional £150m over five years will be allocated, including whether any additional resources will be made available to coroners in Northern Ireland.”

On the standoff over prisoner voting – where the ECHR has ruled that some inmates should be able to vote – the committee points out that Strasbourg’s judgments “are not merely advisory” and that “states are under a binding legal obligation to implement them”.

The government’s reluctance to implement the 2005 Hirst judgment on votes for inmates “undermines its credibility when invoking the rule of law to pressurise Russia – and other countries in a similar position – to comply with international human rights obligations”, the JCHR said.

The committee singles out stories in the Daily Mail, the Telegraph and the Sun as incorrectly portraying the UK’s human rights record.

The report says: “In fact, the proportion of cases which the UK loses in the ECHR is not 75% or 60%, as these press stories claimed, but closer to 1%. The newspaper stories did not take into account the large number of applications against the UK which are rejected by the court as inadmissible.

“We draw parliament’s attention to the significant downward trend in the number of judgments which have found the UK to be in breach of the ECHR.”

Commenting on the JCHR report, the director of the Prison Reform Trust, Juliet Lyon, said: “More than 10 years ago, the ECHR first ruled that the UK’s blanket and indiscriminate ban on sentenced prisoners’ voting was unlawful. Since then, tens of thousands of people in prison have been denied the right to vote in local, national and European elections. This will be the third general election held in breach of the European convention.

“The repeated and unnecessary delay to the execution of the judgement should be a source of shame to successive governments. Ministers have flouted human rights law, faced substantial financial penalties, ignored the advice of prison governors, bishops to, and inspectors of, prisons and taken up parliamentary time and taxpayers’ money in order to stop sentenced prisoners from acting responsibly by voting in democratic elections.”