Dealing with the past
The Northern Ireland conflict claimed the lives of more than 3,600 people and injured a further 40,000. In most cases no one has ever been held responsible.
Over the last decade a patchwork of measures, including isolated investigations, have failed to establish the full truth about the violations and abuses of the past and left many victims waiting for justice.
We are campaigning for human rights compliant mechanisms capable of delivering the truth, justice and accountability victims’ have rights to.
We believe that such mechanisms would be an important step towards ending impunity for human rights violations and abuses in Northern Ireland and will contribute towards building a lasting peace.
The Hooded Men
As part of this work, Amnesty International continues to support the 14 men chosen for 'special treatment' by the UK Government in 1971. The men were forced to wear hoods and thrown to the ground from low-flying helicopters while hooded. These 14 men became commonly known as the 'Hooded Men'. None of the 14 men were ever convicted of any criminal offence.
In late 2017, the High Court ruled that the failure by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) to investigate the allegations of torture was unlawful and should be quashed. The PSNI sought to appeal this decision to the Court of Appeal.
The Belfast Court of Appeal will consider whether to progress an investigation - we will be supporting the men’s case and give evidence in court. We’ve backed the men’s campaign for decades and we won’t stop until we see justice.
Amnesty International UK is also supporting the brother of a 12-year-old girl, Majella O'Hare, who was shot in the back by a soldier in 1976. The loss had a devastating impact on her family and the grossly inadequate investigation at the time only added to the trauma. Despite a letter of apology from the Ministry of Defence in 2011, no independent investigation has ever taken place, and no one has been held accountable for Majella's killing.
Amnesty International UK is supporting Michael O'Hare in calling for an independent investigation ahead of the 44th anniversary of her death. In July 2020 a letter was sent to the Legacy Investigation Branch of the PSNI requesting the Chief Constable ensure a prompt and independent investigation into her death.
Read the reports
- Northern Ireland: Inquiry into UK Government legacy proposals - 'Victims' rights must be vindicated' 29 April 2020
- Northern Ireland: Legacy proposals a "further betrayal" of victims 18 March 2020
- Northern Ireland: Statute of limitations would be 'utter betrayal' of victims 13 March 2020
- UK: Government must not prevent 'truth and justice' for victims of Northern Ireland conflict 11 November 2019
- UK: Proposed immunity for criminal acts by military sets 'dangerous precedent' 15 May 2019
- Northern Ireland: 'Justice denied' to many Bloody Sunday families 14 March 2019
- Northern Ireland: Patrick Finucane Supreme Court ruling welcomed - now for public inquiry 27 February 2019
- Northern Ireland: Amnesty gives cautious welcome to consultation on legacy 11 May 2018
- Northern Ireland: Secretary of State must urgently release funding for legacy inquests 8 March 2018
- Undercover policing inquiry must be extended to Northern Ireland, say Amnesty 1 March 2018
- Northern Ireland: UK Government must not legislate for impunity through statute of limitations 25 January 2018
- UK: "Lost" archives - Amnesty concern at possible loss of evidence of human rights violations in Northern Ireland 26 December 2017
- Northern Ireland: Government must not legislate for impunity through new statute of limitations 21 November 2017
- Northern Ireland: Government must reject Defence Committee proposals to legislate for impunity 26 April 2017
- Amnesty welcomes inquest into army 'death squad" killings - 25 September 2015
- Northern Ireland: ‘On the Runs’ scheme a symptom of wider political failure - 16 July 2014
- Police u-turn over 1970s 'death squads' revelations in Panorama programme welcomed - 11 June 2014
- Northern Ireland: response to RTÉ documentary allegations on UK and torture - 5 June 2014
- Northern Ireland: Garda-IRA collusion allegations must be investigated - 28 May 2014
- As Haass flies in, parties and governments urged to deliver on 'past' - 23 May 2014
- Panorama Northern Ireland 'death squads' - Amnesty reveals police failure to investigate - 13 May 2014
- Administrative scheme for 'on the runs' must not perpetuate impunity - 28 February 2014
- Northern Ireland: 25 years after Finucane killing, failure to hold inquiry not only cruel, but positively sinister - 12 February 2014
- Haass proposals are 'once in a generation opportunity' - 5 February 2014
- Opportunity to deal with the past must not be squandered - 31 December 2013
- Victims say 'We're an embarrassment to politicians, but we demand action on the past' - 11 November 2013
- Compel retired police officers to assist police ombudsman investigations - 24 October 2013
- Writer calls for truth about torture in Northern Ireland to be revealed at Amnesty Annual Lecture - 17 October 2013
- Claudy bombings investigation suspension 'just the latest betrayal' - 15 October 2013
- Human rights provide key to unlocking dispute of flags, parades and past - 26 September 2013
- Omagh Inquiry refusal: Wrong call made by UK government - 12 September 2013
- Northern Ireland: Amnesty slams failure to deal with the past - 12 September 2013