Northern Ireland: Peace cannot be built on injustice

The call from a former Northern Ireland Secretary of State for an end to prosecutions for Troubles-related killings, is no basis on which to build long-term peace in Northern Ireland, Amnesty International said today.

Peter Hain MP, former Northern Ireland Secretary of State, said there should be no further prosecutions into any killings that took place before the signing of the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement in 1998.

The call came the day before the first UK visit by an Irish head of state this week. President Michael Higgins is due to arrive in London today.

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

“Peter Hain’s call would mean the granting of a blanket amnesty for human rights abuses committed by all sides during the three decades of political violence in Northern Ireland.

“It is regrettable that senior political figures continue to show such disregard for one of the abiding lessons of conflict resolution: one cannot build a stable peace on a rocky foundation of injustice.

“The first UK state visit by an Irish head of state this week is an opportunity to focus on what still needs to be done to create lasting peace in Northern Ireland.

“Such a peace cannot be created at the expense of victims and their right to truth and justice.

“To move on from the past, one must first deal with it. Northern Ireland can then move forward on the basis of truth and accountability - not backroom deals.

“No society should be asked to grant impunity to those who have violated and abused the human rights of its citizens.”

Amnesty published a report in September 2013, “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 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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