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16th September 2021, 00:01:40 UTC

  • Families of Aidan McAnespie, Tom Oliver, Majella O’Hare and John Martin, Brian and Anthony Reavey and victim Francis McGuigan join with Amnesty in statement made today to UN Human Rights Council
  • ‘We cannot allow those responsible for murder, torture and other grave human rights violations and abuses to be placed above the law and beyond accountability’ – Grainne Teggart 
  • Interviews available on request, see contact details at END

Amnesty International and a group of ‘Troubles’ victims have today (Thursday 16 September) taken the fight against the UK Government’s plans to introduce a de facto amnesty for Northern Ireland conflict-related abuses to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Amnesty delivered the statement during the inter-active dialogue with the UN Special Rapporteur on truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence who has recently, together with the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, expressed concerns at the proposals and has also published a follow-up report examining the UK addressing legacy and other issues.

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

“We collectively call on the UN Human Rights Council to challenge the UK Government’s plans to shield perpetrators of abuses and permanently deny justice to all ‘troubles’ victims.

“We cannot allow those responsible for murder, torture and other grave human rights violations to be placed above the law and beyond accountability.

“This blueprint for writing-off conflict related violations not only breaches the UK’s international and domestic human rights obligations, but unduly interferes in our justice system and undermines the rule of law. It sets a very dangerous precedent.

“The UK Government’s proposals are an utter betrayal of victims and must not become law.”

Michael O’Hare, brother of Majella O’Hare killed by soldier in 1976 said: “Victims regardless of who the perpetrator was, are united in their opposition to the UK Government’s legacy proposals. We need the international human rights community to do all it can to help us. The UK Government cannot deny us our rights and access to justice. These plans basically say the life of my 12-year-old sister didn’t matter, that despite the Ministry of Defence previously apologising for her killing, we don’t deserve a proper investigation and justice.”

Eugene Oliver, son of Tom Oliver, killed by IRA in 1991 said, “Recent developments in the investigation into my father’s murder bring us closer than ever to finding out the full truth of what happened and having those responsible held accountable. If the UK Government’s proposals become law, this investigation will end, and we’ll be condemned to a lifetime of never knowing. This is simply wrong.”

Brian Gormley, cousin of Aidan McAnespie, killed by a soldier in 1988, said “After years of waiting, the soldier who killed Aidan will face a criminal trial.  Despite his efforts, two different Courts have rejected his bid to have the case dismissed.  These proposals by the British Government seek to interfere with the judicial process and the rule of law in an effort to remove any prospect of due process and justice.”

Eugene Reavey, brother of John Martin, Brian and Anthony Reavey killed by the ‘Glenanne Gang’ in 1976, said: “The passage of time has not diminished the pain of how brutally my brothers were taken from my family. Everyone – locally and internationally – must stand with us and for the rule of law. The UK Government is betraying every victim of the conflict in favour of protecting those who committed human rights abuses.”

Francis McGuigan, victim of state sanctioned torture, 1971 said: “Almost fifty years since I was subjected to torture, I am still fighting for an independent investigation and now the UK Government plan to legislate so those who sanctioned and carried out torture may never be held accountable. The rest of the world need to pay attention.”

Darragh Mackin, lawyer who represents the families, said “Today Amnesty International and this group of victims have made clear the strength of opposition to the UK Government intent to close down paths to justice for victims. This not only an attack on victims’ rights, but it is an attack on the rule of law itself.  At the centre of these proposals we see an effort by the British Government to eradicate a victim’s right of access to justice.  Such proposals are unprecedented, unjustifiable and must be rejected on the international stage.”