Northern Ireland Attorney General comments about ending prosecutions criticised

20 November 2013

The Committee is surprised and troubled by the statement made earlier today by NI Attorney General, John Larkin, that there should be no further police investigations, inquests or inquiries into any relevant killings that took place before the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.

The Committee believes that these comments are at best unhelpful and at worst offensive to those people who lost family, friends or colleagues before 1998, or who were seriously injured during the Troubles. 
The Committee also notes with concern that his comments fail to acknowledge:

  • the rights of victims and their families, under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, to an adequate investigation, on which there are still a number of outstanding  judgments against the UK at the European Court of Human Rights; and to an effective remedy in respect of violations of the right to life under Article 13;
  • the UK’s obligations under other international treaties which require the State to take positive steps to combat impunity for human rights violations, such as the UN Convention Against Torture, the Committee of which only recently stressed to the UK Government the need for perpetrators of crimes to be identified, prosecuted and punished in the interests of transitional justice.

The Committee will be raising the issue urgently with the UK and Northern Ireland Governments

Dr Hywel Francis MP, the Chair of the Committee, said:

"I am taken aback by John Larkin’s remarks.  They seem to have been made without recognition of either the natural rights of victims for justice or the international framework in which the UK and the Northern Ireland Governments have to operate.  The European Convention on Human Rights and other international treaties bind the UK and its devolved governments to certain rights and duties. Accepting John Larkin’s proposals would go directly against these.  This is a very serious matter which we will pursue at the earliest opportunity."

Image: iStockphoto

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