‘End the Impunity’ campaign launched

The family of Peter McBride, the teenager murdered by two British soldiers in north Belfast in 1992, is to step up their campaign to have his killers expelled from the British army.

Mr McBride, a father-of-two, was shot dead near his home on in north Belfast.

British soldiers Mark Wright and James Fisher were sentenced to life imprisonment in 1995 for shooting the teenager after he had passed through a checkpoint.

They spent just three years in jail before being released to rejoin the army. In 2001 the pair were sent to Iraq.

Mr McBride’s family have since fought a lengthy legal campaign to have both men expelled from the army.

His mother Jean intends to confront Colonel Tim Spicer, the soldiers’ commanding officer at the time, at a conference in London.

The McBrides are involved in a wider campaign calling for the removal of a loophole which allows soldiers convicted of serious crime to remain in the British army.

A campaign called ‘Article 7 - End Immunity’ is being backed by Mr McBride’s family and a range of human rights groups.

Human rights lawyer Phil Shiner, nationalist SDLP leader Mark Durkan, Labour MP Joan Humble, Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Teather, Paul O’Connor of the Pat Finucane Centre and Helen Shaw of INQUEST last night launched the parliamentary campaign against the readmission of all soldiers convicted of rape, murder and manslaughter.

‘Article 7’ refers to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states: “All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law.”

The campaign is supported by Public Interest Lawyers, a firm representing Iraqi victims of alleged British army human rights abuses in southern Iraq.

“If soldiers were convicted of murder in Basra, sentenced to life imprisonment, released early and then posted to Belfast, people there would be outraged,” said Phil Shiner.

“This is essentially in reverse in this case. We must end impunity.

“The Ministry of Defence dismisses soldiers who fail a drugs test but not those who murder another human being. This is quite simply unacceptable.”

Mr Shiner was among the speakers at an ‘end impunity’ meeting in a committee room at the London parliament last night.

Mark Durkan also addressed the meeting.

“Nobody who has been convicted of serious human rights abuses - like murder, rape or torture - should be allowed to serve in the British army,” he said.

“Be it on the streets of Belfast or Basra, the public are entitled to know that killers and torturers are not sheltered in army ranks.”

The families of British Army recruits who died at Deepcut barracks in England have given their support to the McBride family.

Liz Green from Durham in northern England, whose son Anthony died after he was shot at Ballykelly Army Base, County Derry in 2001 said there were similarities with her own case.

“Another soldier was convicted of manslaughter for the killing of my son. He served a year, was released and readmitted back into the Army the next day,” she said.

“Soon after he was promoted just as in the McBride case.

“The MoD thinks it`s above the law and its time that the law was changed. The soldier who shot my son dead should have been automatically dismissed. The soldiers who shot Peter McBride dead should have been automatically dismissed.

“Soldiers who bully someone to the edge of suicide or who murder civilians in Iraq should be automatically dismissed.”

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