Tory plan to water down Human Rights Act to protect ex-soldiers would turn UK into pariah, experts warn

Move could end in Britain leaving the European Convention on Human Rights altogether, prime minister told

Conservative plans to water down the Human Rights Act – to prevent prosecutions of soldiers accused of murders in Northern Ireland – will make the UK a pariah, the party has been warned.

The move could also lead to Britain leaving the European Convention on Human Rights altogether, at huge cost to the country’s reputation, legal experts said.

The backlash came after Boris Johnson pledged to end what the Tories call “unfair trials”, by banning inquests from returning verdicts of unlawful killings for deaths during the Troubles.

It would involve amending the HRA – the key legal route for families seeking to prove British state involvement in killings – to exclude any death in Northern Ireland before it came into force in October 2000.

But Dominic Grieve, the former attorney general, now running as an independent, attacked a confusing announcement that he suggested was simply “electioneering”.

“I am very sensitive to soldiers not being harassed about events that happened a long time ago, but the rule of law has to be upheld as well,” he told The Independent.

Amnesty International said: “All victims have the right to an independent investigation – that is a cornerstone of the rule of law throughout the world. “

And Mark Stephens, a solicitor specialising in human rights, said: “This sounds like clickbait for Tory voters.

“The UK has been a signatory of the European Convention on Human Rights since 1958 and if we want to remain part of that convention any amendment of domestic legislation will have to be compliant with it.”

The Tory pledge follows a long campaign by veterans’ groups which have protested that the law is being abused to hound retired soldiers years after the events in question took place.

But, under Article 2 of the ECHR, nations are obliged to carry out an effective official investigation into deaths where lethal force had been used against individuals by agents of the state.

Investigations using the inquest system have been used by families to try to prove that their loved ones were killed unlawfully.

Mr Grieve added: “If we seek to stop inquests, we may fall foul of Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights. And if we seek to interfere with prosecutions, well, I’m staggered that any government would consider it.”

He warned it could lead to leaving the ECHR altogether, adding: “That would be a very bad destination indeed, because we are one of the leading countries seeking to apply it to improve standards, not just in Europe, but around the world.”

Grainne Teggart, Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland campaign manager, added: “It is essential that no-one, including members of the Armed Forces, is above the law.

“Yet in preventing former soldiers from being prosecuted over killings and other abuses that took place during the Northern Ireland conflict, that is exactly where this would place them.”

Simon Coveney, the Irish foreign affairs minister, also criticised the plan, tweeting: “There is no statute of limitations, no amnesty for anyone who committed crimes in Northern Ireland.

“The law must apply to all, without exception, to achieve reconciliation.”

With many thanks to: The Independent and Rob Merrick Deputy Political Editor for the original story@Rob_merrick

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CONSERVATIVE | HUMAN RIGHTS ACT | NORTHERN IRELAND | EUROPEAN CONVENTION ON HUMAN RIGHTS | BORIS JOHNSON | DOMINIC GRIEVE | AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL | THE TROUBLES | SIMON COVENEY

Remembering The Gilbraltar Three – Premeditaded Point Blank Murder

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Denise Cannon

Operation Flavius was the name given to an operation by a Special Air Service (SAS) team in Gibraltar on 6 March 1988 tasked to prevent a Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) bomb attack. Although the

intention of the operation was stated to be an arrest operaion, it ended with McCann,

Savage and Farrell dead.

The report by Amnesty

International stated that the

inquest failed to answer ‘the fundamental issue, whether the fatal shootings were caused by what happened in the street, or whether the authorities planned in advance for the three to be shot dead.’

RESPONSE REGARDING STEPHEN MURNEY FROM AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL IRELAND – SLECTIVE ABOUT CONDEMNATION OF ABUSE !!!

WE DEMAND AN END OF SELECTIVE INTERNMENT NOW !

Damian Herron > Cumann na saoirse Alba

Hi Damian,

Apologies for not responding to this sooner but I only returned from annual leave yesterday and ploughing through the backlog of emails at the moment.

Thank you for sending on the link from Justice Watch. I have sent that on to our office at the International Secretariat. Regrettably, regarding Stephen’s case, we will be unable to look into this further though I would appreciate it if you send me on any material you come across so I can add it to what we have.

I should explain that Amnesty International has extremely limited capacity, with a very small team responsible for all human rights violations taking place across a large number of European countries.

We simply don’t have the resources to do all the work we would like to do and the fact that we are not in a position to examine Stephen’s case in any more detail should not be taken as a comment on the seriousness of the issues you raise.

Yours,

Justin

Justin Moran

Communications Co-ordinator

Amnesty International Ireland

NORTH’S ‘FAILURE’ TO DEAL WITH THE PAST RAISED BY AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL !

AMNESTY IInternational has raised concerns over failures to deal with the past in the North of Ireland in its annual report on Human Rights.

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The organisation highlighted problems including ongoing violence and threats by republican and loyalist paramilitary groups. It also raised concerns over a “ccontinuing failure” of the British government to establish an “independent thorough and effective inquiry” into the 1989 killing of solicitor Pat Finucane. But the human rights body welcomed reforms being Carried out by the Police Ombudsman Michael Magurie, to improve hhistorical investigations into police misconduct. It also noted the executive’s establishment of an institutional child abuse inquiry. Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International‘s Northern Ireland programme director, said it was clear the north “continues to struggle with the legacy of its recent past”. The British government, he said, had failed to put in place “adequate mechanisms to deal comprehensively with many killings over many killings over many years of violence”. “The year ahead provides new opportunities to not only reform and improve existing mechanisms – and we welcome some steps already being taken in that direction – but also to think anew about how an overall process to deal with the past can be agreed, so that Northern Ireland’s past does not also become its further,” he said. The report highlighted problems in the Republic over prison conditions for young offenders, violence against women and girls and a lack of clarity on abortion laws. Amnesty International said until abortion was allowed in cases of rape and incest, risk to a women’s health, or cases of fatal foetal abnormality, the Republic would be out of line with international humabn rights standards.

With many thanks to : Brendan HughesIrish News.

“But no mention on the Human Rights abuses by the PSNI, or the ongoing injustice’s still happening in 2013 in the North of Ireland and with the likes of the continued imprisonment of Martin Corey and Marian Price amoungst others – Seachranaidhe Irishandproud.

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DOES AMNESTY PRACTICE POLITICAL VETTING ?

This letter appeared in the Irish News yesterday May 6 2013

MR CORRIGAN of Belfast’s Amnesty international office attempts to defend Amnesy’s stance in relation to political prisoners in his own jurisdiction (April 26).

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Marian Price‘s case has been raised and made known by individual human rights activists and by the efforts of her family. I would very much doubt that the public are aware of Amnesty’s stance on the imprisonment of Marian Price, or the ever-increasing number of political prisoners being held on the direct orders of the Northern Ireland Secretary of State, in spite of being granted bail or their freedom by the courts in the North of Ireland. Amnesty say they “have responded to queries” regarding Marian Price’s case. Strangely, when the Russian women involved in the Pussy Riot case were arrested, Amnesty were able to immediately launch a public campaign calling for the women’s release, throwing the full weight of their organisation behind the case. None of the women involved were elderly or sick, and whatever the merits of the case, they have a release date and are not being held indefinitely.

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With many thanks to : Mark Duggan, Dublin.

SIR ANTHONY HART TO CHAIR ABUSE PROBE !

FORMER high Court judge Sir Anthony Hart will chair a government-backed inquiry into child abuse at state and Church-run institutions in Northern Ireland.

English: Join the movement to end child abuse:...

He has come out of retirement to lead the investigation that will draw on the testimony of survivors of abuse in homes, hospitals and orphanages across the north from 1945 to 1995. However, criticisms remain that the probe will not include allegations of abuse that occurred outside the time-frame or away from institutions.” This means that some of the Northern Ireland victims of Brendan Smith’s serial child abuse will be covered by this inquiry. While others will not,” Patrick Corrigan of Amnesty International said.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said the executive would be bringing forward legislation ” shortly ” to give Sir Anthony powers to compel witnesses and documents. Sir Anthony whose last court cases included the trail of Colin Duffy and Brian Shivers for the murder of two-soldiers in Massereene Barracks and the trial of killer dentist Colin Howell, will be supported by a tea, offering a confidential forum.

Ryan inquiry commissioner Norah Gibbons, ex-Metropolitan Police child abuse investigator Dave Marshall, Tom Shaw, who worked on a similar inquiry in Scotland, and Beverley Clarke, who has experience of social work in Canada, will hear victims’ testimony. The inquiry will then rule if abuse was systemic, suggest whether there should be an apology, decide on a memorial and make recommendations for ” redress “. However, any final decision on compensation will be made by the executive after it considers Sir Anthony’s recommendations.

English: A true story of horrific child abuse ...

Legislation is expected to be brought before the summer recess and the investigation will begin by autumn. First Minister Peter Robinson said Sir Anthony would be ” unflinching in his pursuit of truth”. ” I am confident that the scope and nature of this process is robust, will provide a thorough examination of what happened and will get to the the truth,” he said. Mr McGuinness said legislation would ensure the inquiry had the ” powers, flexibility and protections” needed. Mr Corrigan said a statement in the terms of reference that the inquiry will begin after the commencement of legislation suggested that concerns had been met about whether the probe would have full statutory powers for it’s duration.

However, he said he remained concerned that victims of abuse before 1945 or after 1995 would be excluded and that the issue of redress has ” been put on the long finger”. ” Equally, it is clear that the executive currently has no plans for a similar process of inquiry for victims of clerical child abuse outside institutions,” he said.

WITH MANY THANKS TO : DIANA RUSK ( POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT ) IRISH NEWS.

UN PUTS IRELAND UNDER MICROSCOPE TODAY

United Nations Human Rights Council logo.
United Nations Human Rights Council logo.

Amnesty International Ireland has welcomed a number of key commitments to protect human rights made by the Irish Government at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva today.

The Irish Government was replying to 50 of the 127 recommendations made by the council in October to improve human rights in Ireland.

Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland, addressed the UN Human Rights Council following the statement by Ambassador Gerard Corr, Ireland’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva.

The Government today committed to signing the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the Council of Europe Convention on Violence Against Women.

Colm O’Gorman said: “We warmly welcome decisions to sign these treaties that should strengthen human rights in Ireland, and that will help fight violence against women.

“We hope the Government will quickly sign these treaties, and then move to ratify them to ensure the fullest possible protection for people living here.

Regarding Ireland’s agreeing to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, Mr O’Gorman said:

“There is no excuse for the five-year delay since Ireland signed this treaty on enforced disappearances. Quickly ratifying the treaty is essential, both as an act of solidarity with the disappeared around the world, but also if Ireland’s candidacy for the UN Human Rights Council is to have its best chance of success.”

Critical

Amnesty International Ireland welcomed Ambassador Corr’s statement that Ireland would provide the council with an interim progress report but was critical of the refusal of the Irish Government to fully accept some recommendations.

Colm O’Gorman said: “While there was some good news today, we are disappointed that the Government failed to fully accept the recommendation to put housing and health rights into Irish law.

“The severe funding cuts in these areas makes it all the more necessary to put these rights in law to protect the most vulnerable. We are calling on the Government to ensure ways of doing this are examined by the Constitutional Convention.”

The organisation also noted the Government’s disappointing response to recommendations on Traveller ethnicity and corporal punishment of children, and the failure to address the abuse suffered by women and girls in the Magdalene laundries.

Background

Today’s session in Geneva concludes the examination of Ireland by the UN Human Rights Council under a system known as Universal Periodic Review.

Under this method the human rights record of every UN member state is examined once every four years by their peers.

In October 2011, the UN Human Rights Council, after examining Ireland’s record, made 127 recommendations for improvement. The Government accepted most of those recommendations and was today responding to 50 it agreed to look at in greater detail. Of these, Ireland fully accepted 29, partially accepted a further 17 and rejected four.

Read Amnesty International Ireland’s response to the UN Human Rights Council.