CAT concluding observations 2019, paragraph 41
Plain English recommendation
(a) Urgently implement the Stormont House Agreement, which was adopted by the British and Irish Governments and the Northern Ireland Executive in December 2014. Set up the Historical Investigations Unit (HIU), as called for in the Agreement, to investigate conflict-related deaths.
(b) Consider changing the draft Northern Ireland (Stormont House Agreement) Bill to ensure that any limitations on the ability of the HIU to publish information about its investigations are subject to strict safeguards.
(c) Ensure that information about alleged torture or ill-treatment by state agents is not withheld from the public without good reason, and that journalists and others are not threatened or punished for reporting such information.
(d) Conduct independent investigations into allegations of torture, killings and ill-treatment carried out during the conflict in Northern Ireland. These investigations should identify, prosecute and punish the perpetrators. They should include an investigation into the killing of Patrick Finucane, which the Supreme Court recently declared has not yet been effectively investigated.
(e) Take steps, including expanding the role of the HIU, to address allegations of torture, sexual violence and disappearances that took place during the conflict, and ensure that victims of torture and ill-treatment obtain redress, including fair and adequate compensation and rehabilitation.
(f) Not allow amnesties or limitations that would protect perpetrators of torture or ill-treatment.
Original UN recommendation
Recalling its previous concluding observations (CAT/C/GBR/CO/5, para. 23), the Committee recommends that the State party should:
(a) In the absence of a functioning devolved government in Northern Ireland since January 2017, take urgent measures to advance and implement the Stormont House Agreement and the mechanisms it contemplates for investigating conflict-related violations, particularly the Historical Investigations Unit (HIU).
(b) Consider revising the draft Northern Ireland (Stormont House Agreement) Bill to ensure that strict safeguards apply to any limitation on the ability of the HIU to publish information concerning its investigations on the grounds of prejudice to national security.
(c) Ensure that information allegedly establishing the involvement of State agents in conduct prohibited by the Convention is not arbitrarily withheld from the public and that journalists and human rights defenders do not face intimidation or reprisals for disclosing such information.
(d) Ensure that effective and independent investigations are conducted into outstanding allegations of torture, ill-treatment and conflict related killings to establish the truth and identify, prosecute and punish perpetrators, including with respect to the killing of Patrick Finucane, following a recent decision by the Supreme Court that the State party has not carried out an effective investigation concerning this case.
(e) Undertake other initiatives, including expanding the mandate of the HIU, to address allegations of torture, sexual violence, and disappearances committed during the conflict, and ensure that victims of torture and ill-treatment obtain redress, including fair and adequate compensation, and as full as rehabilitation as possible.
(f) Refrain from enacting amnesties or statutes of limitations for torture or ill-treatment, which the Committee has found to be inconsistent with States parties’ obligations under the Convention.
Date of UN examination
UN article number
2 (prevention of torture), 12 (prompt and impartial investigation), 13 (right to complain), 14 (redress, compensation and rehabilitation), 16 (cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment)