Mike Ritchie, RFJ’s Casework Manager has released the following statement in response to the report of the Criminal Justice Inspectorate on inquest disclosure.
“Relatives for Justice welcomes the report of Criminal Justice Inspection (CJI) on the disclosure process by the PSNI to coroners inquests, in so far as it goes. The recommendations are sensible and may ease the situation, if the police co-operate and implement them.
“The report confirms what we have said on many occasion: that the police have established a deliberately obscure and slow system in order to frustrate the ability of the inquests to examine controversial deaths in a timely and transparent manner.
“CJI acknowledge that the coroner should be involved in assessing documents from the start of the process. In RfJ’s view, the coroner should be provided with all material and propose him/herself what is relevant and what redactions should take place. The police have a self-serving interest to hide information. The redaction process should be undertaken independently.
“The report also points out that more resources are required. This again puts the spotlight on to the British government which still refuses to release monies for the implementation of the Lord Chief Justice, Declan Morgan’s plan to inject momentum into the outstanding legacy inquests.
“One disappointing aspect of the CJI inspection is that the only victims group it met was the Victims and Survivors Forum. This can in no way be described as a representative cross-section of the victims’ sector. It would have been more helpful if inspectors had spoken to families actually subjected to the delays. It is the absence of this human perspective that has led the PSNI to be more interested in protecting their institution than responding to victims’ desire for the truth.
“Nevertheless, the report provides further evidence that the real obstacles to dealing with the legacy of the past are the PSNI and the British government.
“One issue that remains to be addressed is that the Ministry of Defence are, if anything, even more dilatory and obstructive about providing information to the courts in relation to deaths by British soldiers. And the MoD of course is the responsibility of the British government.
The report can be accessed by clicking here http://www.cjini.org/CJNI/files/45/45098860-9917-48bc-93ac-ffec70960e84.pdf