European Court Judgment Exposes British
Policy of Systematic Cover-up about Human Rights Abuses in Ireland by
the RUC and British Army
Mark Thompson of RFJ said:
Tuesday 4th April 2000 the European Court of Human Rights heard from
lawyers acting for the families of Gervaise McKerr, Pearse Jordan,
killed by the RUC, Patrick Shanaghan by loyalists colluding with the
RUC/BA, and those killed at Loughgall by the SAS.
Lawyers made oral submissions to the court concerning issues related to
these cases including the impartiality of investigations and article 2
of the European Convention on Human Rights, The Right To Life. And of
the total ineffectiveness of the domestic remedies i.e. (British
judicial system, -inquest-, and RUC investigations) to provide the
truth and hold accountable the perpetrators.
Last Week's European Court Ruling found in favor of the above and found
the British Government in violation of Article 2. This now means that
new transparent and impartial investigation into these incidents be
immediately conducted which discloses the full facts, something that
Britain has refused to do to date. We are absolutely confident that
this will clearly and unequivocally demonstrate that a shoot-to-kill
Further to this the judgment also shows that the British Government
have in place an administrative procedure of malpractice which
deliberately operates cover-ups in relation to state killings, a
mechanism used continually and applied to all 361state killings,
including 75 children, and in many more loyalist killings involving
collusion. It's important to note that the Shanaghan judgment involved
loyalists acting on behalf of the state.
In short the British operate a system which fails to scrutinise
atrocities that they are involved in and which hold the perpetrators of
human rights abuses within their ranks accountable. This amounts to a
policy of impunity.
This policy also relates to loyalist double agents such as Brian Nelson
working within and controlling the death squads for the state.
Britain operated outside of the law and in this context it is not a
state above the law in the eyes of the international community. For 30
years they have managed to evade the international community and brush
off criticism. This time, however, it is different. If Britain claims
to uphold and apply the rule of law then they must now comply with the
international ruling and immediately allow for new impartial
investigations. We await their response.
In light of the judgments RFJ are consulting with legal experts on
behalf of scores of families whose loved ones were killed by the state
and through alleged collusion where the full circumstances were never
satisfactorily investigated. Importantly vital facts and material
evidence was concealed. All of these families have leveled sever
criticism at the authorities and branded the investigations and the
so-called legal system a cover-up.
Last week the European Court on Human Rights effectively echoed their
words and has paved the way for them to seek truth and justice for
their loved ones.
It has also been both a comfort in what at times can and could only be
described as persistent vilification by politicians and sections of the
media, and a vindication of their struggle and determination for
There has been much made of the issue of compensation. This has been a
diversionary tactic from the real and meaningful implications of this
judgment which are human rights and not financial.
The implications of the judgment remains clear, that a radical overhaul
of the entire judicial system, DPP and the area of policing are
immediately required to safeguard against violations and systematic
abuse of the severest kind like shot-to-kill. In addition effective
mechanisms which promote, protect, and safeguard human rights for all
must now follow. In short full accountability. This can only be
achieved in an impartial international context – through the UN and the
office of the Special Rapporteur on Summary and Arbitrary Executions.