In response to the Secretary of State’s speech today, the Director of Rights Watch (UK), Yasmine Ahmed has said:
“While we welcome the statement made by Theresa Villiers that there needs to be a mechanism that is balanced, transparent and accountable for dealing with the past, we are concerned that Villiers reinforces a false and misleading narrative that accountability is too heavily focused on deaths caused by the state. Unlike paramilitaries, no one from the Government has ever been held to account despite clear evidence of state collusion and unlawful activity.
In her speech Villiers states that ‘at least with the new process … there is scope to write in from the start the need for an objective balance and with proper weight and proportionate focus on the wrongdoing of paramilitaries. Rather than the almost exclusive concentration on the activities of the state which characterises so many of the processes currently underway’.
The above statement clearly misrepresents the situation in Northern Ireland. There are a number of mechanisms that have and continue to investigate and hold to account paramilitaries. These include the now suspended Historical Enquiries Team, which was suspended due to a finding in July 2013 by Her Royal Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary that cases involving the state were being reviewed with less rigour in some areas than non-state actors, the Public Prosecution Service which has recently ucharged alleged paramilitaries in relation to the murder of Jean McConville and the Omagh bombing and the Coroners Service for Northern Ireland, which looks at deaths attributable to both the State and paramilitaries.
We urge the Government to acknowledge that investigating and holding the state to account, which has been a very difficult and delayed task due in large part to the Governments unwillingness to disclose relevant information and hold relevant inquiries, is essential for the stability of the peace process and required under international and domestic law. Any mechanisms of accountability must investigate abuses committed by state and non-state actors.”
For more information on this release contact Yasmine Ahmed (Director) on (+44) 0208 004 0941 or email email@example.com