Northern Ireland

Law Society urges British government to abandon controversial statute of limitations plan

Law Society president Rowan White. Picture by Kelvin Boyes
Law Society president Rowan White. Picture by Kelvin Boyes

THE BODY representing the north's solicitors has called on the British government to "uphold the rule of law" and reconsider its controversial plans for a statute of limitations on Troubles-related offences.

The Law Society's intervention follows criticism of the plan to end all criminal investigations and prosecutions up to 1998 by Council of Europe’s commissioner for human rights Dunja Mijatovic.

She said this week that the British government's proposals, which are opposed by Stormont's parties, were incompatible with international human rights law.

Speaking last night, Law Society president Rowan White said solicitors played a vital role in supporting victims and survivors of the Troubles across all communities.

He said his members were concerned by the proposals and that they would contravene the British government's duty under the European Convention on Human Rights to hold independent and effective investigations into the deaths that occurred during the Troubles.

"The Law Society calls upon the United Kingdom government to uphold the rule of law, to act in compliance with its duty under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, all other national and international obligations, and to reconsider its recent proposals," Mr White said.

In a letter to Secretary of State Brandon Lewis this week Ms Mijatovic said the proposed approach was "based on a false dichotomy between investigations and prosecutions on the one hand, and truth and reconciliation on the other, as well as on problematic assumptions about how these interact".

"In addition to being an international legal obligation, fighting impunity through criminal justice is one of the well-established pillars of transitional justice," she said.