Northern Ireland judge decides that amnesty for ‘Troubles’ violence violates human rights

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A recent law granting amnesty to ex-soldiers and fighters for acts committed during Northern Ireland’s period of sectarian violence has been deemed in violation of human rights by a judge in Belfast. The Legacy and Reconciliation Bill, passed in September, prevents most prosecutions for offences committed during “the Troubles” era, where over 3,500 people died.
Critics argue that the law limits access to justice for victims and survivors in Northern Ireland. While a legal challenge by victims and families resulted in the judge ruling that the law’s provision for immunity from prosecution breaches the European Convention on Human Rights, a new investigative body inspired by South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission may conduct human rights-compliant investigations.
The UK government, while considering the ruling, remains committed to implementing the legacy bill. However, Amnesty International has raised concerns and called for the law to be repealed. In response, the Republic of Ireland has launched a separate legal case against the UK government at the European Court of Human Rights.
Although the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement largely ended violence in Northern Ireland, unresolved legacy inquests and ongoing lawsuits continue to seek justice for victims of past atrocities. Despite the challenges faced, many individuals remain determined to seek truth and justice for their loved ones lost during the Troubles.

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