Council of Europe Committee of Ministers "deep" & "profound" concerns of UK authorities approach in cases with Article 2 violations involving UK security force operations & personnel

1428th meeting, 8-9 March 2022 (DH)

H46-43 McKerr group v. the United Kingdom (Application No. 28883/95)
Supervision of the execution of the European Court’s judgments

Reference document


The Deputies

1. recalling that these cases concern procedural violations of Article 2 of the Convention due to various shortcomings in the investigations into the death of the applicants’ next-of-kin in Northern Ireland in the 1980s and 1990s, either during security force operations or in circumstances giving rise to suspicion of collusion in their deaths by security force personnel;

As regards individual measures

2. reiterating their deep concern about the authorities’ lack of clarity on the intended next steps in the case of Finucane, urged them again to provide information on the status of the investigative steps previously announced, to cooperate efficiently with the judicial review proceedings and to inform the Committee without delay of their outcome;

3. expressed profound concern that no information has been submitted on the cases of McKerr, Shanaghan and Kelly and Others; exhorted again the authorities to do everything possible to ensure that they can be brought to a conclusion and keep the Committee informed of developments in the domestic proceedings;

As regards general measures

4. recalled the decision adopted at their last examination of these cases at the 1419th meeting (30 November – 2 December 2021) (DH);

5. reiterated their profound regret that, despite the Committee’s concerns and the length of time these judgments have been pending, with the families waiting for answers, the authorities have not yet finalised their plans for legislation to enable effective investigations into the outstanding cases or provided an indication of an estimated timetable for the same, and noted with concern what would appear to be a change of approach from the Stormont House Agreement;

6. recalled that it is primarily for the State concerned to choose, subject to supervision by the Committee of Ministers, the means to be used to discharge its obligations under Article 46 of the Convention; underlined however that the measures must be timely, adequate and sufficient and reiterated their profound concern that initiating new plans at this stage would appear to risk further delay;

7. recalling that it is crucial that any proposals are in compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights and garner trust and confidence from the public, strongly encouraged the authorities to rapidly step up their engagement with all stakeholders in finalising any intended legislative proposals and to settle their position as soon as possible; strongly urged the authorities to provide full details of the finalised legislative proposals to enable a comprehensive assessment to be made in time for the Committee’s next examination, including the proposed legislative timetable;

8. in the meantime, recalled the vital role played by the inquest system and the Office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland (OPONI) in investigating cases and providing some answers to families; reiterated their invitation to the authorities to respond fully to the questions previously posed at the 1398th meeting (March 2021) (DH) about the functioning of the OPONI and the Police Service of Northern Ireland; further reiterated their encouragement to the authorities to provide sufficient support and resource to legacy inquests, and other bodies involved in case processing in particular the OPONI, so as to safeguard the progress being made, albeit limited, whilst awaiting the outcome of the authorities’ latest reflections;

9. decided to resume consideration of the progress on all of the above issues at the latest at their 1443rd meeting (September 2022) (DH) and, in the absence of the submission of concrete Convention compliant proposals by 1 August 2022, instructed the Secretariat to prepare a draft interim resolution for consideration, at its next examination of the case.