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  • Greg O'Loughlin

UN Experts warn UK Legacy Bill "...would breach the Good Friday Agreement."

On Thursday, experts from the United Nations released a statement calling for the withdrawal of the British government's proposed legacy legislation.

Mr. Fabián Salvioli and Mr. Tidball-Binz, both UN Special Rapporteurs, warned that, "The Bill will substantially hamper victims’ access to remedy before criminal and civil courts for the serious human rights violations and abuses suffered. It would further preclude information recovery and reparations for those victims who have for decades struggled to get justice and redress for the harm endured.”

They added, "The Bill appears to conflate reconciliation with impunity, as well as oppose legal accountability, an essential pillar of transitional justice processes, to truth, information recovery and reconciliation”. A comprehensive approach incorporating the full range of judicial and non-judicial measures is a central tenant of transitional justice processes, they said.

If approved, the bill would thwart victims’ right to truth and justice, undermine the country’s rule of law, and place the United Kingdom in flagrant contravention of its international human rights obligations, the experts said.

“Moreover, the Bill would breach the Good Friday Agreement (Belfast Agreement). This can significantly undermine the Troubles-related peace process and set a damaging and concerning example for other countries coming out of conflict.”

The experts urge the authorities to consider withdrawing the Bill and redrafting it to fully comply with international (and regional) human rights standards, in effective consultation with victims and civil society

The experts have been in contact with the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and regret the lack of response.

This call comes a week after a call from Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, for UK authorities to consider withdrawing the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill, in light of the “widespread opposition” to the bill in Northern Ireland, and the “serious issues of compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights it raises”.


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