As we learned on Friday, Dublin has appealed to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) against the UK's 2023 Heritage and Reconciliation Act on the Northern Ireland conflict, particularly challenging the criminal immunity granted to the perpetrators.
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The “Northern Ireland Troubles Act”, passed by the British Parliament and promulgated on September 18, 2023, aims to “learn lessons from the conflict” and in particular promotes “reconciliation and information gathering by restricting criminal investigations (and) trials”. , says the presentation of the text on the Parliament's website.
During its development, the text was criticized by victims' families, the Council of Europe and even former Irish prime minister Michael Martin, the current foreign minister.
In an appeal filed on Thursday, the Irish government “considers that certain provisions of this law are incompatible with the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights,” the ECHR states in a press release.
Dublin is protesting against the provisions that “guarantee criminal immunity to perpetrators of crimes relating to the Northern Ireland conflict”, the provisions that provide for the “gathering of information” by an “independent commission” rather than by police or judicial services, or the Provisions that constitute a criminal offense “barrier” to the opening of new proceedings in the civil courts.
Ireland and the United Kingdom have already opposed the Northern Ireland conflict before the ECtHR. In a 1978 ruling, the court concluded that the British authorities had inflicted “inhumane and degrading treatment” on people detained in Northern Ireland by subjecting them to the “five techniques” of interrogation, which consisted of: making them stand with their legs against a wall and their arms spread out, enveloping them, depriving them of food and sleep and exposing them to loud hissing noises.
The ECHR, based in Strasbourg, is an international court responsible for ruling on violations of the European Convention on Human Rights in the 46 countries that have ratified it. These countries, including France and all EU members, are united in an international institution, the Council of Europe, which is also based in Strasbourg.
Most applications to the ECtHR are submitted by individuals, companies or NGOs. However, one state can also file a petition against another as part of an “interstate matter.”