Northern Ireland: Amnesty issues U.N. warning on Stormont House Agreement on Dealing with the Past

Amnesty International will tell the United Nations today that much work remains to be done to implement the Stormont House Agreement to ensure that mechanisms to deal with the past in Northern Ireland are “truly independent, effective and capable of discharging the UK’s human rights obligations”.

Giving evidence to the UN Human Rights Committee, which is scrutinising the UK's rights record, Amnesty International's EU Researcher, Alice Wyss, will say:

“While the proposals in the Stormont House Agreement present an opportunity to secure much needed accountability for past human rights violations in Northern Ireland, substantial work needs to be done to ensure any resultant mechanisms are truly independent, effective and capable of discharging the UK’s human rights obligations.

“In particular, effective safeguards must be in place to ensure the practical independence of the mechanisms proposed under the Agreement - this should include procedures for guaranteeing all relevant sensitive intelligence is provided to the investigation function in an independent manner. Investigations must be capable not only of leading to the identification and punishment of the perpetrators, but also of bringing the full facts of the case to light, including whether the state breached its human rights obligations.”

Amnesty is also calling for the proposed mechanisms on dealing with the past to include victims who suffered serious injury or torture during the thirty-year Northern Ireland conflict.

“The Agreement commits to investigations 'into outstanding Troubles-related deaths', leaving a striking omission with respect to cases of those who were seriously injured or tortured. Those victims also have a right to access to the mechanisms proposed in the Agreement,” Alice Wyss, EU Researcher for Amnesty International, will tell the Human Rights Committee.

The organisation will also warn the UN that more funding may need to be set aside to investigate the past in Northern Ireland.

Alice Wyss: “The £150 million pledged by UK government for historic investigations may well be insufficient to the task. The government has suggested that when the money runs out, more may not be forthcoming. That would clearly be an unacceptable response by the government to meeting their obligations to victims of serious human rights violations.”

Amnesty International's full submission to the United Nations Human Rights Committee can be found here.

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