Northern Ireland news

Rights' groups say legacy proposals 'retrospective licence to kill'

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson described the proposals as 'measured and balanced'
Seamus McKinney

Human rights’ groups, the Pat Finucane Centre and Justice for the Forgotten have accused the British government of introducing a “retrospective licence to kill” for former British soldiers and former RUC members accused of Troubles' deaths.

The groups, which represent 230 familes bereaved through the Troubles, said plans to introduce a statute of limitations announced yesterday were not about “all sides” but favoured state agencies.

A spokesman the groups said: “Republicans and, to a lesser extent, loyalists were prosecuted and went to prison in their thousands. Soldiers and police were protected by the state and the criminal justice system. This is about protecting former British soldiers and ensuring that no proper investigations into collusion can take place.”

The spokesman said the move was an unprecedented intervention in the criminal justice and policing systems which were central to the Good Friday Agreement. By closing legacy inquests, it also ended “an actual functioning truth process”.

“These proposals show that Boris Johnston is running scared of the rule of law and human rights’ standards. These plans will further undermine confidence in policing and criminal justice structures. This will do nothing to further reconciliation between the peoples of these islands,” the human rights' groups said.

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Northern Ireland news