UK: Ambassador Reeker must publicly oppose the UK government’s Northern Ireland legacy proposals

January 5, 2022

On December 23, 2021, Amnesty International USA and Amnesty International UK wrote to Ambassador Philip T. Reeker to urge him to publicly oppose the UK government’s plans to deal with the legacy of the Northern Ireland conflict. The proposals amount to a de facto amnesty for security forces of the United Kingdom and other perpetrators of human rights violations and will close all paths to justice for victims. These plans have been unequivocally rejected by the Irish government, Northern Ireland political parties, human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, victims’ groups, and many others.

Click here to download a copy of the letter, or read below.

Riot police in Keady, County Armagh, Northern Ireland in 1996.


December 23, 2021

 

Ambassador Philip T. Reeker

Chargé d’Affaires, ad interim, U.S. Embassy in the United Kingdom

U.S. Department of State

 

Re: Amnesty International USA and UK call on Ambassador Reeker to publicly oppose the UK government’s Northern Ireland legacy proposals

 

Dear Ambassador Reeker:

We write regarding the UK government’s plans to deal with the legacy of the Northern Ireland conflict. The legacy bill, which is expected early in the new year, will seek to establish a de facto amnesty for grave human rights abuses committed during the Northern Ireland conflict. The proposals outlined in the command paper published in July would violate the UK’s international and domestic human rights obligations and remove all legal remedies available to victims. We strongly urge you to publicly oppose these plans.

The UK government should be working bilaterally with the Irish government to establish human rights compliant mechanisms to finally deliver the truth, justice, and accountability to which victims are entitled. Instead, they are pursuing a path which will unduly interfere in the justice system, undermine the rule of law, perpetuate impunity, and grossly dismiss victims’ suffering.

Given the long-standing role and influence of the U.S. government in the peace process in Northern Ireland, the Biden administration is uniquely positioned to influence the UK. This role was recognized by 21 U.S. lawmakers in their November 10 letter to Secretary Blinken. Amnesty shares their concerns and joins their call for the Biden administration to publicly reject the proposed legacy law.

We note with appreciation the several statements that President Biden and administration officials have issued on preserving peace in Northern Ireland. Having already recognized the necessity of existing agreements, we hope that you will make a public statement opposing the UK authorities’ plans and urging them to deal with the past in a rights-respecting manner.

We would welcome an opportunity to discuss further. We are working with a number of victims of both state and non-state actors with whom you may also wish to speak.

For more information, please do not hesitate to contact Daniel Balson and Grainne Teggart on the email addresses provided.

Sincerely,

 

Daniel Balson

Advocacy Director for Europe and Central Asia

Amnesty International USA

[email protected]

 

Grainne Teggart

Campaigns Manager

Amnesty International UK

[email protected]