Europe Ministers highly critical of UK legacy proposals

As part of our continued engagement with international human rights bodies, RFJ submitted a report to the Committee of Ministers – the decision-making body of the Council of Europe, responsible for the supervision of the execution of judgments and decisions of the European Court of Human Rights – in November 2021, outlining our concerns regarding the latest legacy proposals of the British Government.[1] The Committee of Ministers convened for its 1419th meeting this week, and the Deputies endorsed the concerns raised in our latest submissions regarding, among others, a de facto amnesty proposal for all conflict-related cases. The outcome has once again been a strong and highly critical message to the UK Government.

The Committee of Ministers has expressed serious concern in regards of the Government’s intention to introduce a de facto amnesty for all conflict-related cases, which would bring an immediate end to all investigations. Committee members have also indicated “profound regret” about the failure of the authorities to take any steps to enable ECHR Article 2 compliant investigations into the outstanding legacy cases. In addition, the Deputies have pointed at the risk of further delay if new plans are initiated at this stage as something that should be avoided, not only to comply with the European Convention on Human Rights, but also to garner trust and confidence from the public.

The full decision of the 1419th meeting of the Committee of Ministers can be found in the following link: Full CoE Decision December 2021

It is also worth noting that the findings of the Committee were published the same day Secretary of State Brandon Lewis admitted that, although the deadline for legislating on controversial proposals to tackle legacy issues “has been missed”, the Government is prepared to bring legislation in the future. This incoherent declaration would corroborate the intentions of the British Government to intervene the business of the criminal justice system and other institutions in order to guarantee State impunity, to pull a veil over collusion and the worst crimes against those communities seen as suspect and resistant. We understand only consistent international scrutiny is likely to encourage the British Government to implement its international human rights obligations in respect of legacy issues. We therefore welcome the decision of the Committee, as well as its ongoing scrutiny of the UK’s record. Without this, the UK Government’s own approach to dealing with its actions would undermine the rule of law and respect for international human rights.

[1]Our previous submission can be found here: RFJ Submission to Committee of Minister Dec 2021