HRC hamstrung by restrictions on MI5 investigations

As we flagged up here on Slugger a few weeks ago, the Human Rights Commission was not happy being restricted from looking into any human rights abuses from the past. Now the Westminster Joint Committee on Human Rights has added its voice, saying that the Justice and Security (Northern Ireland) Bill would be a “severe blow” to the work of the organisation by preven. This is the same Bill that downshifts the importance but retains the non jury Diplock Courts.

It also claimed proposed restrictions that could prevent the commission from compelling evidence and accessing places of detention were “unjustifiable” and were “far too onerous” to enable it to protect the human rights of those held in custody.

The committee added that there were not sufficient safeguards against the “arbitrary exercise” of the Director of Public Prosecution’s power to certify juryless trials and extra powers for the police and military may be incompatible with human rights legislation.

The report was issued by the committee as the Bill progresses through the British parliament. The Bill follows progress made by paramilitary ceasefires, general improvements in the security situation and last year’s St Andrews Agreement which provides a timetable for the restoration of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

The report also noted:

“…we agree with the NIHRC that there should be no blanket ban preventing it from raising questions about the intelligence services in its investigations. In the context of Northern Ireland, such a limitation would be a severe blow to the credibility and effectiveness of the commission in protecting and promoting human rights.”

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

  • Yokel

    Face it everyone, the government isn’t going to turn on this tap of truth.

    There’s too much at stake in getting the much vaunted process back on track and stable over the next few years so there’s next to no chance of anything truly significant or wide ranging emerging via official channels.

    It’ll take a rogue in the system to start unravelling this kind of stuff.

  • Pete Baker

    “This is the same Bill that downshifts the importance but retains the non jury Diplock Courts.”

    Or as Peter Hain stated at the time

    “It creates a new system of non-jury trial in Northern Ireland”

  • Crataegus

    Scurrilous. Highlights yet again a fundamental problem and speaks volumes about the state of British democracy.


    There is a valid argument that you are not going to get real progress here unless there is a hack of a lot more truth. How can you?

    Indeed I think there is a case for not voting for many of the incumbents in the coming election simply for the reason we don’t know the truth about their past, and we don’t know if others have ‘influence’ over them. Where do their interests lie? Can they be trusted? Who are they working for? Whose interests do they represent?