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Northern Ireland: Latest rejection of UK government's 'Troubles' plans must be a 'wake-up call'

Council of Europe Commissioner on Human Rights, Dunja Mijatovic, has written to the NI Secretary of State over UK government plans to introduce a ‘broad based and unconditional’ amnesty for NI conflict related abuses

Amnesty International UK and a group of victims recently met with the commissioner to raise their opposition to the proposals

‘The UK government finds itself increasingly isolated on the international stage with its intent to sacrifice the rights of victims to protect perpetrators of human rights abuses’ – Grainne Teggart

Amnesty International and ‘Troubles’ victims have welcomed news that the Council of Europe Commissioner on Human Rights, Dunja Mijatovic, has written to the Northern Ireland Secretary of State over the UK Government’s plans to introduce a ‘broad based and unconditional’ amnesty for Northern Ireland conflict-related abuses.

Amnesty recently led a delegation of victims who met with the commissioner to raise their concerns and opposition to the proposals. The delegation included Eugene Reavey brother of John Martin, Brian and Anthony Reavey killed by the ‘Glenanne Gang’ in 1976, Eugene Oliver, son of Tom Oliver killed by IRA in 1991, and Francis McGuigan victim of state sanctioned tortured in 1971.

Grainne Teggart, Northern Ireland Campaigns Manager for Amnesty UK, said:

“We welcome this intervention from Dunja Mijatovic which must be a wake-up call to government that the eyes of the international human rights community are on them.

“The UK government finds itself increasingly isolated on the international stage with its intent to sacrifice the rights of victims to protect the perpetrators of human rights abuses.

“Granting immunity for past violations will perpetuate the suffering of victims already grossly let down by government.

“We call on Secretary of State to reverse course and urgently establish mechanisms that will deliver truth, justice and accountability to victims.”

Eugene Reavey, brother of John Martin, Brian and Anthony Reavey, who were killed by the ‘Glenanne Gang’ in 1976, said:

“It is heartening to see today’s intervention from the commissioner; it shows that the international community is as concerned as we are at these proposals.

"This is the UK government trying to interfere in the justice system and deny us our rights. These plans must never become law.

"We call on UK parliamentarians to pay attention to the statement today as well as victims’ rejection of these plans”.

Francis McGuigan, victim of state sanctioned torture, 1971 said: 

“It’s comforting to know that we’re not alone fighting this.

"We need the international community to continue to stand with us and ensure our rights to truth, justice and accountability are vindicated.

"Almost 50 years since I was subjected to torture, I am still fighting through the courts for an independent investigation and now the UK Government want to legislate so those who sanctioned and carried out torture may never be held accountable. We cannot allow this to happen.”

Eugene Oliver, son of Tom Oliver, killed by IRA in 1991 said: 

“I welcome today’s statement and was pleased to meet recently with the commissioner.

"If the UK Government’s plans become law, my father’s investigation will be brought to an end and permanently deny us truth and justice. We need the international community to keep pressure on the UK government to ensure this doesn’t happen.”

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