NI: Three NGOs to address Geneva hearing on UK human rights record
Representatives of three Northern Ireland NGOs will travel to Geneva next week to address a key UN committee on the UK’s compliance with international treaty obligations on preventing torture.
Solicitor Gemma McKeown will represent the Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ), while Andrée Murphy and Irati Aiesta will represent Relatives for Justice and Adrienne Reilly will represent the Pat Finucane Centre.
They will address members of the United Nations Committee Against Torture (CAT) during its two-day session scrutinising the UK’s compliance with international obligations on the prevention of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment.
In their last commentary, the committee addressed the rise in the use of closed material procedures, the threats to the Human Rights Act, and the failures of the UK Government to put in place human rights compliant mechanisms to address conflict killings.
Speaking in advance, Ms McKeown said: “CAJ is pleased to have made a substantial submission to the Committee on the real fears for the Human Rights Act, the increase in the use of closed material procedures, and failures of the local mechanisms of investigation.
“The inquest system and Police Ombudsman’s office have been starved of resources, forcing families to wait decades in their pursuit for truth and justice. None of the current or proposed mechanisms adequately address ill treatment and torture, including in relation to the cases known as the ‘Hooded Men’; something which has raised concern within the international community.”
Ms Reilly said: “The British government is refusing any redress despite incontrovertible evidence that soldiers in Northern Ireland took part in water-boarding (illegal at all times under international law) and other forms of torture and inhumane and degrading treatment.
“We will be asking the committee to address this with the UK in terms of investigation and including in legacy redress for victims and survivors. We will also be insisting that London immediately set up an inquiry into the killing of Patrick Finucane. Together with our colleagues we will be arguing for international spotlight on this on-going human rights travesty.”
Ms Murphy added: “Nothing has changed since the last examination of the UK by CAT, except families have continued to suffer and their members pass away without seeing a process for truth or justice.
“The systemic delay in effective investigations for those who suffered conflict violations is a form of inhumane and degrading treatment that disproportionately affects women.
“That four women activists from this jurisdiction will have the opportunity to raise families’ experience of harm is a vitally important moment as we grapple with dealing with our past.”
The three organisations’ representatives will be in Geneva from Sunday 5 May to Wednesday 9 May.