Two amendments to the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill 2019, inserted in the House of Commons, would require the NI Secretary of State to report on progress towards implementing measures designed to afford additional protections to security forces in legacy investigations.
Namely (in summary), these amendments add requirements for the Secretary of State to:
- Report on protecting the security forces from ‘repeated’ investigation through a presumption of non-prosecution where there is not compelling new evidence, whether this is through a Statute of Limitations or by another legal mechanism;
- Report on progress towards developing prosecution guidance by the Attorney General for Northern Ireland in respect of certain Troubles-related incidents differentiating where the alleged offender had been lawfully or unlawfully ‘supplied’ with a weapon;
CAJ opposes these provisions standing as part of the bill on grounds of conflict with international human rights obligations relating to the right to life, impunity, non-discrimination and non-recurrence. We also believe they conflict with the outworking of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement and Stormont House Agreements.
We have shared a briefing paper with members of the House of Lords in advance of their consideration of the bill, outlining our concerns.
The briefing paper can be read in full here: Briefing note NI (Executive Formation) Bill 2019
As an additional appendix, we also sent Peers a copy of a recent letter we wrote to the Advocate General for Northern Ireland, encouraging him to rule out measures that would modify the process of justice to protect defendants based on their status as members of the armed forces. The letter is available via this link.