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Council of Europe has concerns on Troubles bill
Pic: Shutterstock

10 Jun 2022 / human rights Print

Council of Europe has concerns on Troubles bill

The committee of ministers of the 46-member Council of Europe is to send a detailed list of questions to the British government about its proposed legislation on addressing the legacy of the North’s past.

Publishing its proposals last year, the British government had called for an end to “the divisive cycle of criminal investigations and prosecutions” linked to the Troubles.

At its latest meeting, the Council of Europe committee looked at the introduction of the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill to parliament in May.

Lack of consultation

Under the legislation, a new Independent Commission for Reconciliation and Information Recovery (ICRIR) would review deaths and other harmful conduct linked to the Troubles.

The committee said that it was crucial that the legislation ultimately adopted was in full compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), and that it would enable effective investigations into all outstanding cases.

The members, however, expressed concern about a lack of formal public consultation on the draft legislation. They called on the British government to “engage fully” with all stakeholders, to ensure that any proposals secured public trust and confidence.

‘Progress’ in inquests

The council committee also noted that the new legislation would prevent new civil claims being brought, and “noted with concern” a proposal to terminate pending inquests that had not reached substantive hearings.

It referred to the progress “finally being made in those inquests”, due to measures recently undertaken.

The committee decided that more information was needed to enable it to make a full assessment of whether the proposed ICRIR complied with the ECHR.

It is asking the British government to respond to its questions by 1 August.

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland