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Northern Ireland: Queen's speech proposal could set 'dangerous precedent for rule of law'

Responding to government plans announced in today’s Queen’s Speech which could lead to de facto amnesties for ex-soldiers and others responsible for grave human rights violations in Northern Ireland before 1998, Amnesty International said the proposed bill could set a “dangerous precedent for the rule of law”.

 

Grainne Teggart, Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland Campaign Manager, said:  

“What has been announced today is vague, but Government briefings suggest a bill which would prove a dangerous precedent for the rule of law. If what has been briefed is true, the Government plans to put those who committed murder and other grave human rights abuses above the law and beyond accountability.

“This would be an insult and gross betrayal of victims long denied the truth, justice and accountability to which they are entitled.

“Rather than close down paths to justice, the Government should reflect and abandon this offensive plan, revert to the Stormont House Agreement and build from there to deliver mechanisms capable of vindicating the rights of victims.”

The Queen’s Speech said: “Measures will be brought forward to strengthen the devolved Government in Northern Ireland and address the legacy of the past.”

Accompanying papers, and previous indications from the government last week, suggest it plans to legislate for a statute of limitations which would block prosecutions for criminal acts committed before the 1998 Belfast / Good Friday Agreement.

In 2019, a consultation on Stormont House agreement mechanisms proposed to deal with past, found that a majority of the Northern Ireland public is opposed to legislating for impunity through a statute of limitations.

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