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Northern Ireland: Troubles Bill clearing House of Commons marks a 'dark day for justice'

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Highly controversial bill expected to return to House of Lords next Tuesday (12 September)

Amnesty is calling on the Irish government to follow through with their opposition to the bill and take an interstate case when bill passes

‘It will now be over to the courts to right this historic wrong’ - Grainne Teggart

In response to the highly controversial Northern Ireland Troubles Bill clearing the House of Commons, Grainne Teggart, Amnesty International UK’s Northern Ireland Deputy Director, said:

Today marks a dark day for justice. Despite huge opposition, the UK government is pushing through a law that does nothing but absolve those responsible for conflict-related abuses - and shamefully, all under the guise of reconciliation.

“It is outrageous that the UK government has so dismissively betrayed victims - only adding to their long-standing trauma with a law they so overwhelmingly rejected.

“It will now be over to the courts to right this historic wrong. Victims must not shoulder the burden of legal challenge alone. The Irish government must now follow through with their opposition to this bill and make a firm and unequivocal commitment to take an interstate case. All eyes are on their next move.

“The fight is not over: Amnesty will continue to stand with victims to have their rights vindicated.”

Michael O’Hare, brother of Majella O’Hare who was shot dead by a British soldier in County Armagh when she was just 12 years old, said:

“The Government has abandoned victims in favour of protecting those who took the lives of our loved ones.

“There are no words to express how deep that betrayal cuts. It is not right for the Government to decide who gets justice for serious crimes such as murder and who doesn’t.

“I will continue to fight - the lives of our loved ones mattered. This isn’t over.”

Troubles Bill: Irish government must commit to an interstate case

Today the NI Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill cleared the House of Commons. It is due to return to the House of Lords next Tuesday (12 September), when the bill is likely to pass.

The bill has been overwhelmingly rejected by victims and victims’ groups as well as Amnesty and other human rights organisations, Northern Ireland political parties and the Irish government. It has also prompted serious and repeated concerns from the US Congress, the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, UN Special Rapporteurs, the Council of Europe Commissioner on Human Rights and the Committee of Ministers.

The Irish Government has rejected the bill from the outset. In April this year, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin told Amnesty and a delegation of Troubles victims that all cards were on the table when it came to the possibility of the Irish government taking the UK government to court if the much-contested bill became law.

When the bill passes, the Irish government can then lodge proceedings. It will not be the first time Ireland has taken on the UK government – a precedent was set with the Hooded Men case.

In addition to the human rights imperative of this bill being challenged, Amnesty believes it is deeply wrong that victims are being burdened with years of legal challenges ahead of them if they choose to fight their own cases.

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