Republican News · Thursday 06 April 2000

[An Phoblacht]

UN slams British government


The report of the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, to be presented today, is expected to staunchly criticise the lack of action on behalf of the British government to ensure the respect of human rights in the North of Ireland.

The British government is again centre stage at the annual United Nations human rights commission in Geneva. The event is one of the most popular in human rights circles, drawing representatives from the world's governments as well as all the leading human rights watchdogs.

As An Phoblacht goes to press, sources have revealed that the report is a stinging indictment of the failure of the British government to protect human rights lawyers in the Six Counties. UN Special Rapporteur, Dato' Param Cumaraswamy, is expected to outline the lack of action of the British government, despite previous UN recommendations made in the past two years.

``The only way of ensuring that solicitors will defend human rights is to make them feel safe and secure. In the current circumstances, the only way to do that is for the British government to take action and ensure that the wrongs of the past are corrected to the possible extent, via independent and international inquiries,'' a UN source told An Phoblacht.

The lack of action of the British government in the Pat Finucane case is central to Cumaraswamy's new report. He is expected to condemn the fact that, despite two previous calls for an independent inquiry into Pat Finucane's murder, the British government has failed to act.

The point he is implicitly making is clear: if the British government has such a clear conscience, why does it deny the family and the public the right to know the full circumstances surrounding the murder?

In recent years, the special rapporteur has recommended a public inquiry be held on the Bloody Sunday model to ensure that justice is done not only to the Finucane family, but also to the rare solicitors who have had the courage to walk in his footsteps.

Britain's lack of action will also be highlighted in relation to the killing of Rosemary Nelson.

Cumaraswamy had personally met Nelson before she was killed. He had contacted the British government to voice his concerns about her security, given the threats directed at her. The British, however, refused to put the solicitor on the key persons protection scheme. Cumaraswamy was also one of the first international human rights ambassadors to demand that the case be taken out of the hands of the RUC.

Last year, he voiced his concerns about the fact that nothing had changed and that human rights defenders were still receiving threats and working in an unsecure environment.

Linking the Finucane and Nelson killings, Dr. Cumaraswamy is expected to say he hopes that the Nelson family will not have to wait as long as Pat Finucane's for truth and justice.

The British, Irish and US governments are expected to respond to the report shortly after.

other related human rights issue in the Six Counties will also be raised when the Special Rapporteur on the Freedom of Expression reports on the Ed Moloney case.

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