Promoting Justice /
Protecting Rights

The body overseeing implementation of the judgements of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has given a final deadline to the UK government by which it must provide details of its proposals to deal with the legacy of the conflict in Northern Ireland.

The Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers has requested the information by 22 October 2020 (1). If this deadline is missed, the Committee is likely to issue an interim resolution against the UK.

It has been almost 20 years since the European Court of Human Rights ordered proper investigations into a number of NI legacy cases, including the killing of Pat Finucane. The Stormont House Agreement (SHA) contained mechanisms that would have dealt with such cases.

However, in March 2020, the UK government did an apparent U-turn on its support for this agreement by setting out a vague counter proposal for a ‘fast-track’ scheme in a Written Ministerial Statement from the NI Secretary of State (2).

Daniel Holder, CAJ Deputy Director, said: “We welcome the international community setting a deadline of 22 October for the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) to come clean on the exact contents of the legacy legislation it is preparing. We share the Committee of Ministers’ concerns about the vagueness of the Secretary of State’s Westminster Statement in March. The NIO proposals must be instead made in a way that is lawful.

“The Committee of Ministers have been very patient despite the UK dragging its feet for many years. This final deadline will provide a renewed focus for the UK with regards to when it should comply with its international human rights obligations.

“We also share the Committee’s ‘deep concerns’ at the failure of the UK to provide any concrete information on how they will now conduct a proper human rights compliant investigation into the death of solicitor Pat Finucane on the back of the UK Supreme Court ruling over 18 months ago (3).”

Please direct media enquiries to Robyn Scott, Communications & Equality Coalition Coordinator, on robyn@caj.org.uk or 075 1994 1203. CAJ Deputy Director Daniel Holder is available for interview.

Footnotes

(1) See https://search.coe.int/cm/Pages/result_details.aspx?ObjectID=09000016809f62ce

(2) Ministerial statement available here: https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-statements/detail/2020-03-18/HLWS163

(3) Judgment here: https://www.supremecourt.uk/cases/uksc-2017-0058.html

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