Promoting Justice /
Protecting Rights

Next week representatives of three local NGOs will be travelling to Geneva to address members of the United Nations Committee Against Torture (CAT) regarding the UK’s compliance with its international obligations on the prevention of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment.

Andrée Murphy and Irati Aiesta from Relatives for Justice, Gemma McKeown from the Committee on the Administration of Justice, and Adrienne Reilly from the Pat Finucane Centre will be travelling to raise ongoing violations of the Convention Against Torture.

The powerful UN Committee Against Torture will be holding a two-day session scrutinising the British Government’s record to date. In their last commentary, the Committee addressed the rise in the use of closed material procedures, the threats to the Human Rights Act, and, importantly, the failures of the British government to put in place human rights compliant mechanisms to address conflict killings.

Speaking in advance, Gemma McKeown, Solicitor with the Committee on the Administration of Justice, said: “CAJ is pleased to have made a substantial submission to the Committee on the real fears for the Human Rights Act, the increase in the use of closed material procedures, and failures of the local mechanisms of investigation. The inquest system and Police Ombudsman’s office have been starved of resources, forcing families to wait decades in their pursuit for truth and justice. None of the current or proposed mechanisms adequately address ill treatment and torture, including in relation to the cases known as the ‘Hooded Men’; something which has raised concern within the international community. ”

Adrienne Reilly of the Pat Finucane Centre added: “The British government is refusing any redress despite incontrovertible evidence that soldiers in Northern Ireland took part in water-boarding (illegal at all times under international law) and other forms of torture and inhumane and degrading treatment. We will be asking the Committee to address this with the UK in terms of investigation and including in legacy redress for victims and survivors. We will also be insisting that London immediately set up an inquiry into the killing of Patrick Finucane. Together with our colleagues we will be arguing for international spotlight on this on-going human rights travesty.”

RFJ Deputy Director Andrée Murphy said: “Nothing has changed since the last examination of the UK by CAT, except families have continued to suffer and their members pass away without seeing a process for truth or justice. The systemic delay in effective investigations for those who suffered conflict violations is a form of inhumane and degrading treatment that disproportionately affects women. That four women activists from this jurisdiction will have the opportunity to raise families’ experience of harm is a vitally important moment as we grapple with dealing with our past.”

The three organisations’ representatives will be in Geneva from Sunday 5 May to Wednesday 9 May.

Please direct media enquiries to Robyn Scott, Communications & Equality Coalition Coordinator. Email or call 028 9031 6000. CAJ Solicitor Gemma McKeown is available for interview.

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