An attack on human rights lawyers by the British Prime Minister has been described as “appalling” and “ shameful”.
In comments during his speech at the Conservative Party conference, Boris Johnson attacked “lefty” human rights lawyers who he claimed were “hamstringing” the justice system.
The comments, which repeated similar ones by Britain’s Home Secretary Priti Patel just days earlier. were branded “utterly shameful” and “deeply concerning” by legal figures.
Sinn Féin MP Órfhlaith Begley said the comments were “hardly surprising” from a British Prime Minister who has “all too often displayed a sickening contempt for human rights and the rule of law”.
“This is the same British government who only recently announced to the world that they were prepared to break international law by enacting the Internal Market Bill and reiterated their desire to remove the British state as far as possible from Human Rights obligations post-Brexit,” she said.
“Human right lawyers play a crucial role in our society, they ensure that the rights of citizens are upheld against injustice.
“Its hard not to see this attack today as an attempt to mimic the dangerous language deployed by similar contemporary populist right-wing leaders.”
The comments came as the British government advanced legislation to put its state agents and informers beyond the law -- allowing them free reign to commit murder -- and also as it opposed a move by the family of murdered defence lawyer Pat Finucane to secure a promised public inquiry.
Pat Finucane (pictured) was shot dead in front of his family in north Belfast by a gang of paid British double agents in 1989. His son, Sinn Féin MP John Finucane, called on the British government to live up to its previous commitment to hold a public inquiry into the murder.
The High Court heard on Friday that the British government is trying to “run down the clock” until a public inquiry becomes pointless. After involved legal argument, the court hearing is to resume on Monday.
”It is now over 20 months since my family’s Supreme Court victory and we are forced to go to court yet again to force a response from the British government,” Mr Finucane said.
“The Supreme Court judgment rejected all previous investigations into my father’s murder and demanded a new approach.
“The continued stalling must end and the British government need to fulfil the promise they made many years ago, which is have a full and independent public inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane.”