Civil liberties group cites ‘collusion’ behind state killings in North
Report highlights shortcomings in dealing with fatalities since Belfast Agreement signed
The Committee on the Administration of Justice report has found that there is evidence of a “common purpose” between the British state and its security agencies to prevent the truth emerging about state killings. Photograph: The Irish Times
There is evidence of a “common purpose” between the British state and its security agencies to prevent the truth emerging about state killings, a Belfast-based civil liberties group claims in a new report.
The Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ) contended there are deficiencies in the current mechanisms charged with uncovering the truth about human rights violations in Northern Ireland.
The report, The Apparatus of Impunity, is published today, Friday, ahead of moves as agreed in the Christmas Stormont House Agreement to establish the historical investigations unit to inquire into killings during the Troubles.
It also alleges that there have been continued attempts to prevent the truth coming out about killings involving the British army, the police and secret services.
“The evidence points to a common purpose between the UK Government and elements within the security establishment to prevent access to the truth and maintain a cover of impunity for state agents,” it states.
The report adds there are patterns suggesting a “concerted effort by some to prevent damaging facts about state involvement in human rights abuses coming to light and those who were responsible for such abuses (or for covering them up) being held accountable”.
The CAJ said it disagreed with those who believed “security force actions outside the law” were justified and helped resolve the conflict, fearing instead that they in fact “fuelled” the conflict.
“Unless a state is held to account for human rights violations, there is a risk of recurrence,” the report states. “Whilst official and media discourses often point to the state ‘only’ being responsible for 10 per cent of the deaths during the conflict, this figure does not include deaths attributable to ‘collusion’.
“Only a proper truth recovery process is likely to provide a more accurate figure. What has become apparent is that whole areas of security policy were run outside of the law, yet very few of the tens of thousands of those imprisoned during the conflict were state actors.
In advance of the creation of the Historical Investigations Unit, the CAJ said that remedies were required to ensure that those investigating past killings of the Troubles could act “without their independence being fettered”.
“The state needs to address non-compliance with disclosure and co-operation obligations, conflicts of interest of personnel and to rescind doctrines of ‘national security’ that afford the opportunity to conceal human rights violations,” it said.
“The process of establishing new institutions needs to redress, rather than replicate and entrench, existing problems and gaps in powers. It is only full implementation of such requirements which will ensure accountability.”