Northern Ireland news

NI Human Rights Commission warn Troubles legacy bill 'fatally flawed'

Alyson Kilpatrick, Chief Commissioner at the NI Human Rights Commission.
Paul Ainsworth

THE British government's bill to deal with Troubles legacy cases has been described as "fatally flawed" by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC).

The Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill, which is being tabled at Westminster today, proposes immunity from prosecution for those involved in Troubles-era cases if they co-operate with a new independent information retrieval body that will conduct investigations.

Northern Ireland secretary of state, Brandon Lewis, has said the investigations process will be accompanied by "an ambitious and comprehensive oral history programme that will allow people to tell their stories and share their experiences".

However, critics of the bill have expressed concerns, including the chief commissioner of the NIHRC, Alyson Kilpatrick.

"We promised the government that we would consider any proposals put forward in an objective manner and without any preconceived ideas," she said.

"We also promised, however, that we would, as we are obliged, hold the government’s draft legislation to the standards of domestic and international human rights law.

"We have not had an acceptable amount of time or prior consultation to enter a detailed written response today but having worked over-time and at speed we are sure that this Bill is substantially, in fact almost certainly fatally, flawed."

Ms Kilpatrick said the NIHRC would soon publish a "detailed analysis" of the bill, but predicted its "incompatibility with Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights and therefore the breach of the Human Rights Act 1998 that will surely follow".

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