O’Neill hits out at ‘cynical and duplicitous’ amnesty proposed by UK government

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Michelle O'Neill

Q Radio News/PA

Northern Ireland’s deputy First Minister has raised a proposed amnesty over Troubles offences with the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights.

The UK Government has proposed a statute of limitations which would end all prosecutions for Troubles incidents up to April 1998 and would apply to military veterans as well as ex-paramilitaries.

The proposals, which Prime Minister Boris Johnson has previously said would allow Northern Ireland to “draw a line under the Troubles”, would also end all legacy inquests and civil actions related to the conflict.

Michelle O’Neill wrote to the commissioner to “raise serious concerns” about the proposals, particularly that former British soldiers could not be pursued.

“The British Government proposals for an amnesty are a cynical and duplicitous attempt to put its state forces beyond the reach of the law and demonstrates a complete disregard of political agreements, international obligations and the human rights of victims,” she said.

“These proposals are in clear breach of the Stormont House and New Decade New Approach agreements, which the British Government signed.

“The British Government have callously disregarded the views of victims and their families who opposed an amnesty in a recent consultation on legacy."

The Deputy First Minister continued: “There is unambiguous and unanimous opposition to the British Government amnesty proposals which go even further than the policies of serial human rights abuser, and Chilean dictator, Augusto Pinochet.

“It has been rejected by all locally elected parties in the Assembly, the Irish Government, members of the US congress, UN experts and human rights organisations.

“I have written to Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatovic, raising serious concerns around these proposals and urging the EU to fulfil their international obligation to uphold, protect and safeguard human rights by directly challenging the British Government.”

Meanwhile, Amnesty International recently led a group of victims to meet with Mr Mijatovic.

Northern Ireland campaigns manager Grainne Teggart said: “Amnesty and a group of victims recently met with Dunja Mijatovic to directly raise our concerns over the UK Government’s plans to deny truth, justice and accountability to victims of the ‘Troubles’.

“These proposals are an utter betrayal and they must be abandoned.”

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