NI: Amnesty leader: 'War on terror' repeating failed policies of Northern Ireland past

Amnesty International director urges action on NI Bill of Rights

America and Britain's 'war on terror' is repeating the failed policies of Northern Ireland's past, Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen will say today (Thursday), in a speech in Newcastle, Co Down, to hundreds of trade union delegates attending the NIPSA conference.

Declaring that the way to fight terror is to ensure human rights are protected, not flouted, she called for greater political will for the proposed Northern Ireland Bill of Rights.

The following are excerpts from her planned speech:

"Terrorism by armed groups is inexcusable and unacceptable. The perpetrators must be brought to justice - but through fair trial, not torture or secret detention. Sadly, the increasing brutality of such incidents is a further bitter reminder that the ‘war on terror’ is failing and will continue to fail until human rights and human security are given precedence over narrow security interests.

"Of course, the abuses now being committed in the name of the war on terror are all too familiar to those from Northern Ireland. Internment without trial, the use of torture in interrogation of prisoners, draconian new laws – the failed policies of Northern Ireland’s past are now being writ large on a global scale.

"It is only by focusing once again on human rights that the world’s leaders will be able to offer human security.

"Northern Ireland’s imperfect peace is a recognition that human security comes not from the barrel of a gun but from the will of the people. But the will of the people must be underwritten by the pen of the lawmakers.

"The people of Northern Ireland now rightly look to their politicians to make the future better than the past and to ensure that human rights is at the heart of that future.

"The proposed Northern Ireland Bill of Rights holds out that promise."

Later in her speech, she is expected to say:

"Let me say this clearly to politicians in Belfast, London and Dublin... Northern Ireland expects you to deliver. Poll after poll has shown that a clear majority of people in Northern Ireland - from all sides of the community - wants a Bill of Rights that will ensure the mistakes of the past are not repeated, and that cover the bread and butter issues that affect people’s everyday lives. It is time for political will to match the will of the people."

NIPSA and Amnesty International are two of over one hundred community groups, trade unions and non-governmental organisations which are members of a cross-community coalition, the Human Rights Consortium, campaigning for a strong Bill of Rights.

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