Legacy Bill ‘biggest abuse of human rights in UK history’, says victims’ group

Proposed law to deal with the legacy of the Northern Ireland Troubles is the biggest abuse of human rights in UK history, a victims’ group has said.

The Government’s draft legislation would see a form of immunity offered to those suspected of killings during the conflict if they agree to co-operate with a new truth recovery body.

The Legacy Bill, which is going through its parliamentary stages, would also prohibit future civil cases and inquests related to Troubles crimes.

Northern Ireland Troubles
Raymond McCord, third left, joins other victims of the conflict to protest against the Legacy Bill (Liam McBurney/PA)

A victims’ group called the Truth and Justice Movement condemned the proposals as it prepared to show a film to parliamentarians at Westminster on Tuesday.

The film, which tells the stories of eight victims, has already been shown to members of the Oireachtas parliament in Dublin.

Raymond McCord, whose son Raymond Jnr was killed by loyalists during the Troubles, will be among members of the group hosting a showing of the film for MPs and Lords at a room in Westminster on Tuesday evening.

“Everyone in the United Kingdom is supposed to be equal and afforded equal human rights, however if the British government’s Legacy/amnesty Bill is passed, these eight victims along with thousands of other British and Irish citizens will lose these rights, their equality is removed,” he said.

“The rights of proper police investigations, prosecutions, inquests and civil actions of those murdered by both loyalist and republican paramilitaries and the British state’s security forces will be removed permanently by a government that intends to legally ban truth and justice for victims of the Troubles in Northern Ireland and England with its Legacy/amnesty Bill.

“It certainly won’t help victims move on, it won’t get them the truth, it won’t ease their pain and it won’t give them the legal opportunity of justice.

“However, it will show the Conservative Party are not the party of law and order that they claim to be. It will show that the Conservatives’ Legacy Bill is the biggest abuse of human rights and the justice system in the history of the United Kingdom.

“Democracy, along with truth and justice, will no longer be part of the British way of life and replaced by cover-ups and denial of justice.”

Mr McCord said the film, made by Mobile Media, demonstrated why the Bill should not be allowed to pass.

He added: “Imagine a government bringing a law in that doesn’t punish the murderers but the victims, imagine a government that bans investigations into thousands of murders, imagine a government that rewards murderers, imagine a government that doesn’t believe in truth and justice and prohibits it, imagine a government covering up the murders of thousands of innocent people – that government is the Conservative government of the United Kingdom.”

An NIO spokesman said: “The current mechanisms for addressing the past are delivering neither justice nor information to the vast majority of victims and survivors and their families.

“The Legacy Bill seeks to address the legacy of Northern Ireland’s past by implementing an effective information recovery process that will provide answers for families and help society to look forward.

“The Government has been engaging constructively with all stakeholders on the Bill, and the concerns expressed. This includes Lord Caine’s recent attendance at the screening of the Victims’ Stories film in Belfast.

“We recognise that the Bill is challenging for many, and we are considering carefully how these concerns might be addressed as the Bill proceeds through Parliament.”