London’s latest legacy proposals contain nothing for families bereaved in the conflict. No self-respecting judge, police officer/former police officer or historian should touch them with a barge pole. Perpetrators can apply for immunity from prosecution behind closed doors without their evidence being tested to substantiate their integrity or truthfulness.
London’s latest legacy proposals contain nothing for families bereaved in the conflict. No self-respecting judge, police officer/former police officer or historian should touch them with a barge pole.
Perpetrators can apply for immunity from prosecution behind closed doors without their evidence being tested to substantiate their integrity or truthfulness.
We are deeply concerned that the proposals allow the Secretary of State to intervene at many stages, including in the work of the proposed “Independent Commission for Reconciliation and Information Recovery” (ICRIR). This would subvert the role of the courts and the judiciary.
Families will have no opportunity through the ICRIR to challenge those who killed their loved ones. The public will, likewise, be kept in the dark. There will be minimal accountability. While referencing the South African experience, there is a far lower threshold for granting immunity with no right to legal representation for victims and no judicial oversight.
Far from being progress, these proposals are actually worse than the current “piecemeal” legal processes (such as Ombudsman’s inquiries and inquests) which, while imperfect, at least have the power to produce credible results.
Throughout the proposals, the British government gives the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (appointed by the British prime minister) the right to intervene – including influencing what information can be passed to families and on national security grounds.
The proposals allow, in short, for a power grab by a key protagonist in the conflict – the British government. They appear to be focused on providing an easy route for state perpetrators (former soldiers, police officers and agents) to gain immunity from prosecution for their crimes.
They are a backward step in that all the inquests currently awaiting hearing, as per the Lord Chief Justice’s timetable, will fall from May 2023 unless substantial hearings have already begun.
Moreover, families will be barred from taking civil cases. Most families take these actions to gain disclosure from the state on the circumstances of their loved-one’s death.
To give one example, if a family wishes to know if a state agent, being “handled” by the police or military, was behind the death of a relative, this information could be withheld.
Should the state agent seek immunity from his/her criminal actions, any review would be held behind closed doors, and the family would never be told the outcome. Any information deemed “sensitive” could be kept from the family.
As for the proposed “official” history of the conflict, many families will not wish any state-appointed panel of historians to list the details of their loved-one’s death. They will wish to opt out of such a scheme.
Families can have no confidence at all in these proposals in which they would have no powers of legal scrutiny and which would provide no accountability. We will be campaigning against them.
See their website and response here.