March 09, 2015Pat Finucane Impunity Northern Ireland Accountability and Access to Justice
UK Supreme Court grants permission to The Pat Finucane Centre and Rights Watch (UK) to intervene in the case of Keyu and Others v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs before the Supreme Court (Batang Kali Massacre case). We are intervening to ensure that the scope of the Government’s procedural obligation under Article 2 (right to life) is interpreted as requiring the Government to conduct Article 2 compliant investigations into conflict related legacy cases in Northern Ireland.
The applicants in the Keyu case are challenging the decision of the UK Government not to hold a public inquiry into the alleged massacre by British forces of 24 civilians at the Batang Kali rubber plantation (former Federation of Malaya) in December 1948. The Court will need to consider whether the UK Government has a legal obligation under the Human Rights Act 1998 to investigate deaths that occured within close proxiomity to or after the UK Government ratified the ECHR in 1953 but before the ECHR was incorporated into domestic law in 1998. Accordingly, the Court will consider the temporal scope of the procedural obligation under Article 2 (right to life).
Yasmine Ahmed, Director of Rights Watch UK states:
“The outcome of this case will have considerable implications in Northern Ireland where many of the deaths that occurred during ͚The Troubles͛ happened before the enactment of the Human Rights Act in 1998. The Attorney General of Northern Ireland is seeking to make submissions to the Supreme Court in an attempt to effectively close the door to public inquiries into historical deaths in Northern Ireland. The UK has a legal obligation under the ECHR, in force since 1953, to investigate the unlawful killing of one of its nationals. In order to discharge this obligation it is vital that there is a mechanism in domestic law that allows for the enforcement of these fundamental rights and the accountability of actions of the state.”
Sara Duddy, caseworker with the Pat Finucane Centre states:
“͞This attempt to undermine the fundamental safeguard provided by Article 2 of the ECHR comes just weeks after the political parties and the two governments agreed for the first time that all future investigations must be Article 2 compliant. Dealing with the past, whether through inquests or investigations, continues to be a battle ground where the UK government seeks to deny families the right to truth. The Batang Kali massacre is proof if proof were needed that the past will always come back to haunt us if it isn’t dealt with.”
Darragh Mackin, KRW LAW LLP, Solicitor for The PFC and RWUK said;
“This is a hugely significant case for families and victims who continue in their efforts to bring about effective investigations into legacy related deaths, and to secure justice and accountability. The Batang Kali Massacre is a self-evident example, as to why legacy related cases in this jurisdiction, require an investigation which is effective, and in particular secures the right to the truth.”
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