The Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers has published its latest decisions in relation to the scrutiny of the ‘cases concerning the actions of the security forces in Northern Ireland’, otherwise known as the McKerr group of cases. This follows on from a meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies, which took place in Strasburg earlier this week.
The Committee of Ministers oversees the implementation of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights. It is a separate body from the EU.
Among other decisions, the Committee of Ministers:
- reiterated their serious concerns about the delay in the establishment of the Historical Investigations Unit and other legacy institutions and underlined that, notwithstanding the complexity of the broader political picture, it is imperative that a way forward be found to enable effective investigations to be conducted, particularly in light of the length of time that has already passed since these judgments became final and the failure of previous initiatives to achieve effective, expeditious investigations;
- strongly encouraged the [UK] authorities to act on this commitment [to legislate for the Stormont House Agreement], to provide an estimated timetable for the next steps and to ensure that the legislation introduced to Parliament will guarantee the Historical Investigations Unit’s independence in both law and practice and enable it to conduct effective investigations which are sufficiently accessible to the victims’ families in full compliance with Article 2 of the Convention;
Gemma McKeown, CAJ Solicitor, commented: “The message from the international community in Europe to the UK is clear – stop delaying and get on with legislating for the Historical Investigations Unit, but do so in a human rights compliant manner.
“This message has been delivered in a week when we are focused on both Bloody Sunday and the 20th anniversary of the assassination of human rights lawyer Rosemary Nelson, who was a board member of CAJ. In recent weeks, we have also seen the Finucane decision in the Supreme Court and heard revelations about sensitive documents that the PSNI failed to provide to the Police Ombudsman. Additionally, in advance of the Committee of Ministers meeting, the release of some legacy inquest monies was announced – a matter on which the Committee seeks further updates from the UK. This puts into sharp focus the importance of delivering on existing commitments.”
The Committee of Ministers decision can be found in full here.
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