Human Rights Commission condemns war


NORTHERN IRELAND: The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission has condemned the British military attack on Iraq as a violation of international law and a breach of human rights.

Unionist politicians have accused the commission of "meddling". In an unprecedented step, it said it had a legal and moral duty to speak out. Its chief commissioner, Prof Brice Dickson, said: "The commission has not to date issued statements about the human rights policy of the government as it affects people in other countries.

"But, in view of the gravity of the situation, commissioners believe they would be failing in their responsibilities if they did not issue this advice now.

" We are the only statutory body set up specifically to provide human rights advice to the UK government and we have a legal and moral duty to speak out.

"The most fundamental human rights are at stake. One does not deal with human rights abuse by in turn committing further such abuse. In all situations, whether national or international, it is absolutely vital that the rule of law prevail over the rule of armed force."

Ulster Unionist MP, the Rev Martin Smyth, said: "I sometimes wonder if the Human Rights Commission has too little to do because they continually exceed their remit." Foreign policy was "none of their concern", he said.