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17 October 2022

HREG - Northern Ireland (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill

The 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.

We 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).

The 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. 

All 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.

We 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.

We 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.



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