Northern Ireland news

Lawyers and academics from north join 800 legal professionals in calling on UK government to press for ceasefire in Gaza

Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip on Sunday (AP Photo Leo Correa). Kevin Winters (inset) is among the legal practitioners and academics from the north who have joined 800 legal professionals in signing a letter calling for the UK Government to press for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

LAWYERS and academics from the north have joined more than 800 members of the legal profession in calling for the UK government to press for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

The letter sent to the British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Defence, Secretary Grant Shapps, has now been signed by 837 professionals, comprising Kings Counsel, law practice partners, professors and retired members of the judiciary.

More than a dozen legal practitioners and academics from Northern Ireland have added their names to the letter, which urges Downing Street to “take urgent steps to ensure the UK government does not violate international humanitarian law or aid or assist its violation by others, steps which they say include immediately halting arms exports to Israel”.

The letter also “reminds the UK government of its legal obligation to act to prevent genocide where there is a risk of genocide occurring”, and calls for “the urgent provision of humanitarian assistance to Gaza, the return of hostages in Gaza, the immediate halt of weapons exports to Israel, and to work towards a just, lasting and sustainable peaceful settlement for all those in the region”.

Kevin Winters, a founding partner in Belfast firm KRW Law is among the local signatories of the letter.

“Irish lawyers have a strong tradition in human rights awareness borne out of decades of legal agitation on conflict related issues in Ireland,” he said.

“The language in the letter is a potent reminder the government, by its stance to date, continues to breach the Geneva convention; show complicity in war crimes; run rough shod over international legal obligations and otherwise violates every conceivable aspect of humanitarian law.”

He continued: “As lawyers all of us should feel humbled to be in a position to make even this most minimalist of gestures.

“We must rail against governmental indifference, and worse, to the plight of so many people in the war torn Middle East.

“As lawyers being in a privileged position to endorse this latest letter hopefully demonstrates a timely reminder of our collective refusal to remain silent.”

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