Promoting Justice /
Protecting Rights

An open letter endorsed by human rights NGOs, academics and lawyers has made fresh calls for the legacy commitments made in the New Decade New Approach Agreement to be returned to.

The current British Government committed in the January 2020 (UK-Ireland) New Decade New Approach agreement to legislating for the SHA ‘within 100 days’. The Northern Ireland Office bill is expected to unilaterally depart from the existing Stormont House Agreement and adopt an entirely new approach that will bring in a de facto amnesty and end any prospect of effective, independent investigations into conflict related deaths. Instead of the mechanisms proposed within the SHA, it appears the bill will establish a toothless ‘Legacy Commission’, to which “all sides would be encouraged to come forward to talk about historical events”. Furthermore, the UK government has declined to rule out the possibility that the bill will seek to curtail criminal cases against the military that are already before the courts (including those relating to Bloody Sunday). It is also feared that the bill may be used to dismantle the NI Lord Chief Justice’s programme of Legacy Inquests, which constitutes a key vehicle for truth recovery, as illustrated by the recent verdict into the 1971 Ballymurphy massacre.

The open letter, signed by 18 organisations, individuals and expert groups who work on legacy, has been sent to the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) and other decision makers. It emerged from a recent meeting of legacy practitioners, which is convened by the Belfast-based human right NGO the Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ).

Signatories:

The Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ)

Pat Finucane Centre

Amnesty International UK

Justice for the Forgotten (JFF)

Rights and Security International

Bloody Sunday Trust

Dr Anna Bryson, Queen’s University Belfast

Professor Louise Mallinder, Queen’s University Belfast

Professor Kieran McEvoy, Queen’s University Belfast

Professor Colin Harvey, Queen’s University Belfast

Dr Cheryl Lawther, Queen’s University Belfast

Professor Emeritus Paddy Hillyard, Queen’s University Belfast

Professor Mark McGovern, Edge Hill University

Peter Madden and Fearghal Shiels, Madden & Finucane Solicitors

Niall Murphy and Kevin Winters, KRW LAW solicitors

John Finucane, Finucane Toner Solicitors

Patricia Coyle and Nichola Harte, Harte Coyle Collins Solicitors

Padraig Ó Muirigh, Ó Muirigh Solicitors

Please direct media enquiries to Robyn Scott, Communications & Equality Coalition Coordinator on robyn@caj.org.uk or 075 1994 1203.

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