Proposed legacy Bill may not be human rights compliant, warns commissioner

Controversial government legislation to deal with the legacy of the Troubles in Northern Ireland ‘runs a very significant risk’ of being deemed not in line with human rights obligations, according to a communication to the Council of Europe. ‘man.

Dunja Mijatovic is the council’s human rights commissioner and recently traveled to Belfast where she met with stakeholder groups about the Northern Ireland Troubles (Inheritance and Reconciliation) Bill. She also held meetings with government ministers.

In a written submission to the 46-member council, she said there was “minimal support” for the proposed legislation in Northern Ireland.

The bill has already been approved by the House of Commons and will go to the House of Lords in the autumn.

It offers a form of amnesty for perpetrators of troubled crimes in exchange for cooperation with a new truth body, and would also end investigations and civil proceedings related to the conflict.

The bill has faced opposition from political parties and victims’ groups in Northern Ireland, as well as the Irish government.

Ms Mijatovic’s submission raises concerns that a proposed new ‘review mechanism’ for legacy cases may not meet the requirement for independent and effective death investigations under Article 2 of the Convention European human rights.

Her submission said: ‘The Commissioner is of the view that in bringing forward the Bill the UK Government has embarked on a course of action which runs a very significant risk of ultimately being tried by national courts and/or or the European Court of Human Rights. not comply with the Convention.

Northern Ireland Secretary Shailesh Vara said legacy laws were still open to negotiation (Brian Lawless/PA)

“It would also fail to meet the government’s wish to ‘draw a line under’ the legacy of the unrest and, more importantly, would continue to deprive victims and families of the full enjoyment of their rights under the Convention.” .

Her memoir continued: “Based on her visit and further monitoring, the Commissioner concludes that there is minimal support and public confidence in the Bill and its mechanisms in Northern Ireland.

“The commissioner notes that this has been further damaged by the perception that the main purpose of the bill is to protect (military) veterans from investigation and prosecution, rather than to achieve reconciliation.

“This, according to the commissioner, is a very understandable perception, given repeated statements by government officials emphasizing the need to protect veterans from vexatious claims or otherwise being prosecuted through criminal action.

“The commissioner notes that while there will never be full agreement on an approach, in this case the basis of trust is so weak that it is difficult to see how the mechanisms of the bill will manage to generate more confidence during its implementation. ”

Recently, Northern Ireland Secretary of State Shailesh Vara said the controversial bill was still open for negotiation following a meeting between Northern Ireland Office Minister Lord Caine, who spoke to groups of victims.

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