Concerns Raised With United Nations Committee against Torture

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The Human Rights Commission has made a number of recommendations relating to conflict-related deaths and legacy issues to the UN Committee Against Torture during its examination of the UK in Geneva this week.

In its submission to the Committee, the Commission recommends that a comprehensive regional trauma network is implemented without delay to meet the needs of victims and to provide rehabilitation as a form of effective remedy. In addition, a recommendation was made that the UK Government effectively monitors and, where necessary develops and expands, steps taken to address paramilitary violence in Northern Ireland - particularly against children.

Chief Commissioner, Les Allamby, stated:

“The Commission has taken this opportunity to raise a number of very serious concerns before the UN Committee Against Torture. The examination is timely given the circumstances surrounding the death of Lyra McKee which throw the continuing paramilitary violence into sharp relief. We have acknowledged any advancements made on legacy issues, such as the announcement in February that a new Legacy Inquest Unit would be established under the remit of the Lord Chief Justice, but also pointed to the many gaps still requiring urgent attention. We have recommended that the draft Stormont House Agreement Bill is amended and enacted to ensure that the Historical Inquiries Unit is fully compliant with human rights law and practice.

The Commission also reported on the February 2019 UK Supreme Court judgment that there had not been an Article 2 (right to life) compliant inquiry into the death of Patrick Finucane. We have called for a public inquiry to be finally initiated as soon as possible, which fully complies with the issues raised in the judgment.”

In its submission to the Committee, the Commission has made a number of recommendations concerning children and young people, including that the age of criminal responsibility is increased from 10 years old to at least 12 years old, in line with international standards, and that a forthcoming report on the issue from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child is taken into account. The Commission also recommends the introduction of legislation to repeal all legal provisions permitting the marriage of children in NI; and that effective steps are taken to support transgender children - emphasising that the best interests of the child are paramount.

ENDS

For more information, contact Claire Martin on 07717731873 or on claire.martin@nihrc.org

Notes to editors:

1. The United Nations Committee Against Torture will review the UK’s compliance with the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment during its 66th Session, between 5th and 7th May 2019.

2. The Commission highlighted a number of issues in its submission to the Committee, many of which are marked as ‘red’ in the traffic light system in its 2018 Annual Statement, including: conflict-related deaths; legacy inquests and inquiries; physical punishment of children; child, early and forced marriage; age of criminal responsibility; and termination of pregnancy.

3. The Commission’s submission to the Committee was published in March 2019, and can be found online here:


08 May 2019