NYC Bar Association calls on UK government to prioritise funding for legacy inquests

John S. Kiernan
John S. Kiernan

The New York City Bar Association (NYCBA) has called on the UK government to allocate funding for legacy inquests in Northern Ireland in a letter sent to British leaders on the twentieth anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.

The association represents over 24,000 lawyers, judges, law professors and government officials from throughout the United States and over 50 other countries.

It has closely monitored and engaged human rights concerns in Northern Ireland since the late 1980s, sending a number of fact-finding missions and issuing detailed reports, the latest in 2016.

President John S. Kiernan and Anil Kalhan, international human rights committee chair, authored the letter to Prime Minister Theresa May and Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley.

Mr Kiernan and Mr Kalhal wrote: “In our reports since the signing of the Belfast Agreement, we have repeatedly noted the growing sense of hope at the prospects of achieving lasting peace.

“However, as we noted in our most recent report in 2016, ‘substantial work remains to be done in ensuring that the abuses of human rights and injustices of the past do not destabilise the peace that has already been secured’.

“On this important anniversary of the beginning of the peace process, we urge the government of the United Kingdom to ensure that this vital component of that process moves forward without continued delay by ensuring that sufficient resources are devoted to the inquest system.”

Welcoming the letter, Grainne Teggart, Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland campaigns manager, said: “Victims’ rights to truth and justice must be realised. The ongoing failure to put in place human rights compliant mechanisms that offer truth and accountability breaches their legal obligations and shows contempt for victims who have long been paying the price for government failings.

“Human rights are a vital underpinning of the Good Friday Agreement. At a time when the prospect for the return of devolved government remains on shaky ground and threats to rights are posed at Westminster, it is time the UK government committed seriously to improving the human rights and equality picture for everyone living here.”