The work of the Northern Ireland NHRI on the legacy of conflict

Since its inception, a core focus of the work of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) has been the legacy of the conflict in Northern Ireland. This has included advice to government, monitoring and reporting, and supporting legal action in domestic and international courts in relation to the UK Government’s obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

An ongoing issue in Northern Ireland remains the failure to investigate deaths connected to the conflict. This is evident through the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights emanating from Northern Ireland and the current oversight by the Committee of Ministers in the McKerr group of cases, which the NIHRC continues to monitor.

The UK government recently conducted consultation and produced draft legislation to establish mechanisms to deal with outstanding investigation of deaths, truth recovery and the collection of historical narratives. The NIHRC’s analysis of this identified significant concerns about compliance with human rights obligations in particular the procedural obligations of Article 2 ECHR, culminating in over 80 recommendations in order to make the proposals human rights compliant.

With the focus on Article 2, the draft proposals do not identify any process or intention to investigate allegations of treatment under Article 3 ECHR. The NIHRC continues to highlight the obligations to those who were severely injured, advocating for appropriate remedies, including the commitments to a pension and a mental trauma service.

In addition, the NIHRC has recently provided advice to a Select Committee’s inquiry into investigations involving British military personnel, identifying that their recommended option of a statute of limitation would amount to an amnesty and be in breach of international law.

The NIHRC continues to monitor the state’s compliance with international obligations relating to addressing the past, including highlighting these at both the domestic and international level.

Read about the practices of other institutions here.