Lawyers’ body defies scepticism over Eames Bradley

As the signs grow that a dying Labour government will gift Eames- Bradley to the Tories and the fundamentally divided local parties, the lawyerly independent group Committee for the Administration of Justice has come out with a bold “rights based “ approach to dealing with the past. The committee clearly fears that Labour in the form of the oleaginous Shaun Woodward ( with the very deepest respect”) will continue to push the soft options of story telling and clearing up perceived anomalies for victims. The main proposal for a Legacy Commission now looks like a non-starter. The CAJ even defend what they admit are the “deeply divisive “ recognition payments, pointing out that nobody is compelled to accept them. I draw no particular satisfaction in believing that most of its recommendations will never happen, because that leaves us with the basic conundrum – what exactly do we do now? National governments will duck it, local parties will stay deadlocked. The big question for me is: does legally-backed excavation of as many details of what happened help reconciliation? The short answer is probably not – reconciliation as the committee fairly point out can’t be forced and rests more the present than the past. Is the CAJ right when they say:

In our view, there is a need for a genuine and transparent process which addresses the conflicting myths of the past. Otherwise, the danger is that these myths about the conflict will clash in another generation or two. History suggests that without resolution, conflict re-emerges after fifteen years.

Extracts below
“Independent scrutiny of the state’s role in the conflict is a key requirement of this
process. Impunity is the most dangerous legacy. If the state and its agents feel that
they can get away with violations of human rights, then any attempt to deal with the past
will fail, with the associated danger that the mistakes of the past will then recur.

The response to the (Eames/Bradley) Report, particularly in relation to the recognition payment, has operated to politicise the debate and to make it a controversial topic. CAJ believes that this negative reception should not frame the remainder of the debate. Remedy and reparation have been a key aspect of many truth recovery processes, and it is in this context that we address the issue of recognition payments. It is unfortunate that the government has seen fit to rule out this recommendation prior to consultation. We are convinced that the Consultative Group would not have included that proposal were it not an intrinsic part of a balanced overall package. It would be important that the proposal is considered on its merits.

The temptation arising from this consultation will be to develop a process that selects the
easy proposals which have most support, such as story-telling and discussion fora of
various kinds. In fact, the process must deal with the hard issues. As the government
with ultimate responsibility for this jurisdiction throughout the conflict, the UK government
– with the Irish government – needs to address the difficult issues as well as the easy
ones, not least by establishing an independent commission with sufficient powers and
clear mandate.

It is clear that with a proper human rights compliant approach to other
issues, reconciliation can be an outcome of the process, and it is questionable if genuine
reconciliation is at all possible without a human-rights based approach. The important
issue will therefore be to ensure that human rights are central to the remit and operating
style of the Commission and its various units.

What the Reconciliation Forum would do; how t would operate or its what its aims are. …
why the Human Rights Commission and the Equality Commission have not been given a role?

The Four strands of work of the Legacy Commission –
reconciliation, review and investigation, information
recovery and thematic investigation

We are completely opposed to the notion that the inquiry into the Pat Finucane case
should be dropped.”

  • andrew white

    Independent scrutiny of the state’s role in the conflict is a key requirement of this
    process……….

    ah right so its just abuot the brits and Gerry and Marty and pals get off scot-free.The CAJ is nothing nmore than a republican lobby group

  • Turgon

    The report seems almost as full of utterly disingenuous waffle as the original Eames Bradley proposals.

    They begin with a comments which illustrates their whole approach: “The Report of the Consultative Group on the Past has been generally recognised as a
    genuine attempt to wrestle with the difficult collection of issues related to law, justice,
    truth, accountability and societal reconciliation that arise in the context of post-conflict
    transition.”

    The simple fact is that many do not see it as a genuine attempt: the refusal to accept large numbers of submissions as they were part of an organised campaign, the repeated leaks about the report, Jarlath Burns’s claims that unionists had been dishonest which he was sunsequently unable to back up.

    All the above result in many people regarding Eames Bradley as not fit for purpose.

    Proceeding on the CAJ report makes plenty of recommendation about the government but singularly fails to mention the IRA or other terrorists who committed the overwhelming majority of the violence.

    Whilst the CAJ rejects an amnesty and says that a 5 year time scale for information recovery etc. is too proscriptive “However, as long as there is clear progress towards a distinct end point,
    and flexibility at the end to ensure every issue is addressed, a 5 year period appears
    workable.
    We would however recommend that the 5 year period should not include the set up”

    This of course ignores the simple fact that in most jurisdictions murderers are pursued for decades and there have been many recent convictions of old cases due to DNA evidence.

    They agree in part 16 with “the need to statutorily prevent discrimination against those with conflictrelated
    convictions .”

    Overall this report is as one sided and pathetic as Eames Bradley’s initial immoral and loathsome report. The hope is that this is the last attempt by the appeasers of the terrorists to keep the iniquitous Eames Bradley report alive. Hopefully the whole thing will come to naught and its only effect will be as a lasting memorial to the hubris, arrogance and dishonesty of Eames Bradley’s authors.

  • igor

    Naiive and the anti-state bias shines through.

  • igor

    “We are completely opposed to the notion that the inquiry into the Pat Finucane case
    should be dropped”

    …. fine ……then you pay for one. £200m or so should see it through if you are careful

  • RepublicanStones

    ‘…. fine ……then you pay for one. £200m or so should see it through if you are careful ‘

    Anti-state bias bad…pro-state bias gooooooood !

  • Omar Khayam

    Brian Walker inaccurately and naively describes CAJ as a “Lawyers group” and a “lawyerly group.” If only. It is NOT a lawyers group; it may have lawyers in it; but they are predominantly lawyers who are much more comfortable with the SF view of the world than any other, or, they are naive people like Brice Dickson, who once headed it, and now is very critical indeed of the NI Human Rights Commission’s view of a wide and deep Bill of Rights ( http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmselect/cmniaf/memo/billofrights/ucm0202.htm ). And this is the same Brice Dickson who preceded Monica McWilliams as Chair of the NIHRC. CAJ is anti-state. And it gets major funding from Chuck Feeney’s Atlantic Philanthropies, whose NI programme head is……Martin O’Brien, who happens to be….. the former Executive Director of…..CAJ. And Chuck Feeney financially supported SF’s US offices in Washington and New York earlier. When Professor Dickson once mused years ago of including VICTIMS in CAJ’s remit, in an issue of Fortnight (?), when he was prominent in its leadership, his suggestion was never adopted by CAJ. CAJ is not interested in championing victims but only too ready to hold the state to account and very soft indeed on the crimes of paramilitaries, whether it be the IRA or the Prod ones. “Independent” CAJ indeed, Mr. Walker? Hardly.

  • re. I’llnny

    The CAJ and truth go together like chips and iron bars.