FAIR
Representing Victims of Terrorism in South Armagh
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22/11/05
FAIR lead opposition to Amnesty Legislation

The ongoing opposition to the Terrorist Amnesty legislation was stepped up a gear as FAIR spoke with the United Nations to raise their concerns. Such is the feeling amongst victims that this legislation is a fundamental erosion not just of Human Rights but is also a deviation from international standards that it has been raised with the UN. After a conversation with officials from the office of the SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR OF THE COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS ON THE INDEPENDENCE OF JUDGES AND LAWYERS, we are confident that they too have concerns about the legislation. This body is concerned with the independence and impartiality of the legal process and anything that would damage that is studied. We will be calling on the rapporteur to report on the implications of the present Bill and will be supplying him with our analysis and a taste of the breadth and depth of opposition from across communities and parties in Northern Ireland.

On Monday, FAIR victims and their legal representatives met the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commissioner in order to discover what the Commission will be doing to oppose this legislation. We will also be asking what advice was given to the Secretary of State prior to the drafting of the legislation, as the Commission has a statutory obligation to do. This is a matter of basic human rights for victims who expect that organisations such as the Commission, Amnesty International, Committee on the Administration of Justice and others will support them. It is now time for these bodies to take a stand against this latest appeasement of terrorism, it is clearly out of step with International laws and standards and is a fundamental breach of the rule of law and denies victims effective redress before national courts.

We will all now see exactly whose rights and whose side these organisations are on will it be the side of victims and democracy or the side of the terrorists and appeasement. We will also be calling upon them to lobby Parliament and also to support our eventual legal challenge if the law is passed in its current form. For too long many of these bodies have attacked the government for their pro-active approach to terrorism now we see the opposite as the government breaks fundamental rights to appease them. Victims and the wider communities they come from wait expectantly for the response of these groups.

Today victims from FAIR will meet with Peter Hain and will raise a range of issues most importantly the issue of OTRs and the continuing denial of victims' rights. Also on the agenda will be the grave insult given to victims by the prime Minister's refusal to meet victims. Last week we requested a meeting in order to hear how Tony Blair would justify the most recent concession to terrorists. Victims are at a loss to see how the present Terrorist Amnesty can be allowed and fear it will be a disaster for peace, reconciliation and community relations. All we ask is that if Mr Blair feels it is justifiable that he meet the victims who will suffer and explain face to face his motivations and listen to their concerns. Until now Tony Blair has ran away from a face to face meeting with victims and has never been forced to literally face those who suffer most at his hand.

 



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