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Report: The Apparatus of Impunity?

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A copy of the report is available at the following link.

The Apparatus of Impunity? - Human rights violations and the Northern Ireland conflict: a narrative of official limitations on post-Agreement investigative mechanisms' (PDF, 2 MB)

The Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ), with Queens University Belfast, School of Law, Business Alliance Project have today (Friday 30 January) launched the report 'The Apparatus of Impunity? - Human rights violations and the Northern Ireland conflict: a narrative of official limitations on post-Agreement investigative mechanisms'

 The Stormont House Agreement, signals that new mechanisms to investigate deaths during the ‘Troubles’ will now be established, including a new independent ‘Historic Investigations Unit’. In this context this research report brings together a critique of the shortcomings in addressing human rights violations across the mechanisms which have existed since the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, including the former PSNI HET, Police Ombudsman, Inquests, public inquiries, as well as examining the overarching limitations placed by the UK government on ‘national security’ matters and other doctrines used to control the provision of evidence to investigators.

 It finds that some legacy mechanisms have either been shown not to have the necessary independence or effectiveness to investigate state actors, whilst other mechanisms which have been established as independent, such as the Police Ombudsman’s office, have faced limitations on their powers and even interference in their work. The report notes that despite allegations that existing mechanisms over-focus on the state, CAJ had been unable to locate a single case whereby a member of the security forces had been tried and convicted since 1998 as a result of a legacy investigation.

 CAJ’s Daniel Holder who presented the findings of the report said

 "The research identifies a range of methods and actions used by various levels of the state to prevent and limit accountability for past actions, including attempts to control access to evidence, the powers, personnel and resources of legacy investigations, to neutralise or ‘lower the independence’ of key institutions, to and to legislate in the name of ‘national security’ to provide a growing range of powers which can and have been used to limit legacy investigations. Given the patterns which emerge the evidence does not point to such phenomena being isolated or institution specific.  

 

“There are numerous lessons to be learned to ensure existing mechanisms and new institutions alike have the power, resources and structure they need to conduct human rights compliant investigations into the past without their independence being fettered.”