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UK: Proposed immunity for criminal acts by military sets 'dangerous precedent'

Responding to reports that UK Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt is planning to introduce an amnesty from prosecution for any offences committed by the British military more than 10 years previously – with the exception of those who served in Northern Ireland – Rachel Logan, Amnesty International UK’s Legal Programme Director, said:

“It would be utterly disingenuous to have a ‘presumption’ of non-prosecution for abuse, yet at the same time claim justice is being served. British soldiers who break the law must face it, just like everyone else.

“These proposals potentially set a dangerous precedent. If the threshold tests for prosecution are met in a particular case, an individual should then be prosecuted.

“Naturally, individuals should be presumed innocent and only charged with criminal offences in the exceptional circumstance that the thresholds for prosecution are met – that is already the law.

“But trying to go further and exempt a certain group of people from facing justice would be a perversion of that law.”

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

“All victims of human rights violations - whether they were committed during Northern Ireland’s conflict or any other - have a right to an independent investigation, with the possibility of prosecutions to follow where the evidence leads.

“Any attempts by the UK Government to remove this recourse would be a betrayal of victims’ fundamental right to justice.

"Suggestions from some MPs and Lords that amendments may be added with regards to Northern Ireland undermines confidence in obtaining justice for past human rights violations, and that the UK Government will be an honest broker in establishing mechanisms to deal with the past.”

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