Northern Ireland: A blanket amnesty would be an 'utter betrayal of victims'

The Northern Ireland Attorney General’s call for an end to prosecutions for Troubles-related killings is an utter betrayal of victims’ fundamental rights to justice, Amnesty International said today.

Attorney General John Larkin said there should be no inquests, inquiries and prosecutions into any killings that took place before the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.

Patrick Corrigan, Director of Amnesty International Northern Ireland, said:

“The Attorney General’s call today would in effect be the granting of a blanket amnesty for human rights abuses and violations committed by all sides during the three decades of political violence in Northern Ireland. It would be an utter betrayal of victims’ fundamental right to justice.

“Such a move would fly in the face of international human rights standards and perpetuate impunity.

“While fully recognising the challenges in bringing prosecutions after many years have passed, it is nonetheless vital that where sufficient evidence exists those suspected of committing killings, life-threatening attacks, torture and ill-treatment should be brought before the courts.

“It is vital that this process focuses not just on those who pulled the trigger, but also those in positions of authority who pulled the strings.

“Victims are too often already being let down by flawed investigations into past human rights abuses and violations, today’s proposals from the Attorney General would be a further betrayal for many victims in Northern Ireland.”

Amnesty published a report in September, “Northern Ireland: Time to deal with the past”, which found that the patchwork system of investigation that has been established in Northern Ireland has proven inadequate for the task of establishing the full truth about human rights violations and abuses committed by all sides during the three decades of political violence.

Amnesty International continues to call for a comprehensive mechanism to be set up to review the conflict as a whole, establish the truth about outstanding human rights violations and determine responsibility.  

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