17 October 2022
HREG - Northern Ireland (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill
Human Rights and Equality Group (HREG) welcomes the recent decision of the Committee
of Ministers of the Council of Europe (‘the Committee’) concerning the Northern
Ireland (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill.
share the Committee’s view that the legislation must have the confidence of
victims and survivors and that the legislation, if progressed, is in full
compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
HREG raised its concerns about the human rights compliance of this draft
legislation in a submission
to the Joint Committee on Human Rights earlier this year. We remain concerned
about the lack of independence and effectiveness of the Independent Commission
on Reconciliation and Information Retrieval and the inadequate participation of
victims and families in the proposed new structures. Further, we remain
strongly opposed to proposed prohibition on new civil claims and the closure of
legacy inquests which will deny access to justice to many.
of these issues have again been highlighted by the Committee in its decision
and underline our view that the Bill is incompatible with Article 2 of the ECHR.
also share the Council of Europe’s Human Rights Commissioner’s concerns about
‘repeated pronouncements by senior government representatives, made in the
context of the introduction of the Bill, disparaging legal challenges as
‘vexatious' or otherwise insidious’. These attacks on lawyers, who are simply
doing their job, must cease.
will continue to monitor the draft legislation’s passage through the House of
Lords. We reiterate our request that the Government address the concerns raised
and call on Peers to reject the Bill in its current form.