Mark Thompson of Relatives For Justice has a lengthy piece on the OTR issue over at the Compromise after Conflict blog and takes the opportunity to highlight the degree of attention this is getting in the media compared to that given his own organisation. He concludes though:
OTR letters are not amnesties but they are of legitimate concern to those affected by republicans much the same that the issues raised in this article are of equal concern to those affected by state violence and collusion.
The only amnesties that exist here are de-facto amnesties resulting from a deliberately flawed criminal justice process that existed for the duration of the conflict that protected the state’s interests overall and administered a policy of impunity to members of state forces and their agents.
These flaws were exposed in the May 2001 ECtHR Article 2 judgment of which Relatives for Justice were instrumental in bringing about. Now the outworking’s of that judgment are again being thwarted by the PSNI’s Legacy Unit, ironically staffed by unaccountable former Special Branch officers, the destruction of evidence held by the state, the use of public interest immunity certificates, and the usual prevaricating and delaying of inquests and legal proceedings. The tactic is deny, deny, deny and then delay, delay, delay.
That tactic also extends to the deliberate withholding of sufficient resources to meet the existing and growing needs of the coronial system and the Police Ombudsman given the legacy caseloads, and a simultaneous policy of hallowing out the legal aid system by the Department of Justice, previously the NIO, in a bid to curb future cases against the state.
These past week’s events have demonstrated two very clear points – hypocrisy and a hierarchy of victimhood. It’s the same old story that the only story and concern is what republicans did.
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