Ending Troubles prosecutions in Northern Ireland ‘could breach international law’

Ending Troubles prosecutions in Northern Ireland ‘could breach international law’
‘None of those involved in any serious violations will be held to account, leading to impunity’, ministers told

The UK may be about to breach international law with its controversial plan to end all Troubles-era prosecutions in Northern Ireland, the Council of Europe is warning

The controversial plans – which would also end all legacy inquests and civil actions from the conflict – appears to be an unconditional amnesty, its human rights commissioner says.

In a letter, Dunja Mijatović tells ministers they “might bring the United Kingdom into conflict with its international obligations, notably the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)”.

“The blanket, unconditional nature of the amnesty in your proposal effectively means that none of those involved in any serious violations will be held to account, leading to impunity,” says the letter, seen by The Guardian.

“Beyond the impact on justice for victims and their families … this is also deeply problematic from the perspective of access to justice and the rule of law.”

In July, Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis announced an end to all prosecutions for Troubles incidents up to April 1998, involving both military veterans as well as ex-paramilitaries.

Boris Johnson hailed an opportunity to “draw a line under the Troubles” and the plans were welcomed by Conservative MPs for ensuring British soldiers will not face possible prosecution.

But the Irish government, all main parties in Northern Ireland, Labour and victims’ groups condemned them, several branding them a “de facto amnesty for killers”.

Legal experts in Belfast concluded the proposed amnesty would be wider than the one Augusto Pinochet introduced to shield human rights violators in Chile.

The level of impunity would be more sweeping than almost 300 other post-conflict amnesties introduced around the world, their report said.

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