Northern Ireland news

Human Rights Commission gives qualified welcome to draft legacy legislation

Les Allamby, Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission. Picture by Mal McCann

THE Human Rights Commission has said while it welcomes draft legislation on dealing with the past, more work needs to be done to ensure the bill is human rights complaint.

The body published its response to an NIO consultation on legacy proposals agreed by parties during the 2014 Stormont House talks.

Chief Commissioner Les Allamby said; "We are recommending that assessments of all PSNI Historical Inquiry Team, Legacy Investigation Branch and Police Ombudsman previous investigations into deaths are conducted to determine if they are human rights complaint.

"If found not to be complaint, a case should fall within the remit of the Historical Investigations Unit (HIU). Conducting the assessments should not however prevent the HIU beginning its work on the outstanding investigations.

"The commission also recommends that a firm commitment be made to fund the Lord Chief Justice's plans for addressing outstanding legacy inquests. We have highlighted our concern that in the absence of necessary resources the obligation to deliver these inquests will not be met."

The consultation does not include any proposal for a statute of limitations for former members of the armed forces, although prosecutions of soldiers has continued to dominate debate at Westminster.

"We remain aware of the discussion and advocacy by some for a statute of limitation applying to members of the security forces," said Mr Allamby.

"A statute of limitation would amount to an amnesty and this is incompatible with human rights law."

However, the commission welcomed confirmation that there will be amendments to legislation to include security forces members in the accelerated release scheme.

Anyone convicted of a Troubles-related offence prior to 1998 is eligible for release after two years in prison, but the scheme did not apply to security force personnel.

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