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Panorama Northern Ireland 'death squads' - Amnesty reveals police failure to investigate

Responding to the announcement today from the Police Service Northern Ireland (PSNI) that former members of a British Army undercover unit who admitted to having shot unarmed civilians in Northern Ireland will face no charges, Patrick Corrigan, Northern Ireland Programme Director of Amnesty International, said:

“The assertion that ‘no crime has been committed’ will seem completely incredible to anyone who watched the Panorama programme.

“We question the thoroughness of the PSNI investigation. The Director of Public Prosecutions asked the Chief Constable to initiate an investigation of the Military Reaction Force. Instead the police merely reviewed the contents of the broadcast - a wholly inadequate response to these serious allegations.

“We can reveal that at no point have the programme makers been contacted by the PSNI for any further information about the activities of the MRF or any information that would help identify those soldiers who appeared in the programme, or the four others who were interviewed off camera. Surely this would have been a normal line of enquiry for the police in any thorough investigation?

“The soldiers who spoke in the programme say they were given a specific mandate to act outside the normal rules of the army - and therefore the rule of law.

“They admit to having opened fire on civilians without being clear that they were armed, let alone that they posed a threat to life. Their conduct would obviously fall outside any legal use of force.

“We also question the ability of the Historical Enquiries Team to carry out any credible follow-up review, given their record in dealing with cases involving killings by the armed forces. Last year HM Inspectorate of Constabulary found that the HET investigated cases where the state was involved with ‘less rigour’ than others, an approach inconsistent with the European Convention on Human Rights.

“This is yet another case which underlines the failed and inadequate mechanisms for dealing with Northern Ireland’s past, and it shows the urgent need for a new overarching mechanism to address all these issues of injustice – one that has the confidence of the entire community.”


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