Irish Republican News · April 24, 2006
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Jurists criticise inquiry legislation

Controversial new legislation which will dictate how inquiries into British Crown force collusion in a number of murders are held has been criticised by an international panel of eminent jurists.

Two members of the Eminent Jurists Panel spent three days in Belfast last week to observe how new “counter-terrorism” laws have impacted on the rule of law and human rights.

The eight-member panel, which was established by the International Commission of Jurists, is conducting a global inquiry into counter-terrorism laws, their implications and justifications.

Justice Arthur Chaskalson, former chief justice of South Africa and the first president of South Africa’s Constitutional Court, and Justice Raul Zaffaroni of the Supreme Court of Argentina, conducted hearings in Belfast as part of the research.

Speaking yesterday in Belfast, Justice Chaskalson said concerns had been expressed to them about the recently enacted Inquiries Act, which allows for Britain to hide any information which might be damaging to British interests.

“It does seem to me that where people are struggling to find out what happened, it is very important that the inquiry should not only be open and independent but perceived to be open and independent. It should be transparent,” he said.

Justice Chaskalson said he and his fellow panellist had met family members of people who had died in unlawful killings and who had been struggling for years to have full and transparent investigations of the circumstances.

“They have suffered much anguish as a result of a failure to do so,” he said.

“The panellists urge the authorities to address this real and substantial grievance.”

The panel will take 18 months to complete the hearings before completing a global report.

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© 2006 Irish Republican News