Failure to deal with Northern Ireland's past criticised at United Nations

Failure to deal with the legacy of past human rights abuses in Northern Ireland will be criticised strongly before the United Nations.

The criticism of the failure of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland authorities to put in place a comprehensive process for dealing with past human rights violations will come from Amnesty International, when the organisation gives evidence to the United Nations Committee Against Torture in Geneva. The UK government will come before the powerful UN committee on Tuesday when it will have to answer tough questions from the international community on its human rights record.   Amnesty International will report that existing mechanisms - such as the Historical Enquiries Team (HET), the Police Ombudsman of Northern Ireland and inquests - are proving inadequate for the task of securing proper accountability for past human rights violations and abuses.   Part of the remit of the UN Committee Against Torture is the "investigation into deaths by lethal force that occurred during the conflict period in Northern Ireland".   In its written submission to the Committee, Amnesty International notes that existing mechanisms, such as the HET, "do not allow for a broader and more thorough examination of the systemic nature or patterns of the violations and abuses that occurred". Amnesty also calls for more rigorous investigation into "the policies, practices and institutional culture of both state agencies and armed groups or the responsibility and role of high-level decision makers."   Amnesty's findings are based on research the organisation has been carrying out amongst victims and their families in Northern Ireland over the last year. The research is due to be published later in 2013.   Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International's Northern Ireland Programme Director, said:   "It is clear from our meetings with victims that mechanisms such as the HET and the Police Ombudsman are delivering for some families, but failing dismally for others to deliver fully independent, effective, prompt and thorough investigations.   "In addition, the piecemeal nature of existing mechanisms and their narrow remits means that they are simply not able to secure full accountability for past human rights abuses. We are bringing our concerns to the attention of the United Nations in the hope that the international community will urge the UK authorities to ensure a new approach is found to address the outstanding abuses of Northern Ireland’s past.   "A new, comprehensive process is crucial to ensure accountability for those abuses, not just to help individual victims and their families, but to help society as a whole to build a shared future on firm foundations."

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