H46-35 McKerr group v. the United Kingdom (Application No. 28883/95)

1436th meeting, 8-10 June 2022 (DH)

H46-35 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;

2. recalling the concern previously expressed as to what would appear to be a change of approach from the Stormont House Agreement;

3. noted the introduction of the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill to Parliament on 17 May 2022, with the proposal to create a new body, the Independent Commission for Reconciliation and Information Recovery, to review deaths and other harmful conduct forming part of the Troubles in Northern Ireland between 1 January 1966 and 10 April 1998, and that it passed second reading on 24 May 2022;

4. emphasised again that it is crucial that the legislation ultimately adopted is in full compliance with the European Convention and will enable effective investigations into all outstanding cases;

5. underlined in addition the importance for the success of any new investigative body of gaining the confidence of victims, families of victims and potential witnesses; noted the change of approach adopted by the United Kingdom Government from the 2021 Command Paper following engagement with stakeholders but noted with regret the lack of formal public consultation on this draft legislation and firmly reiterated their previous calls on the authorities to ensure that any proposals garner public trust and confidence by engaging fully with all stakeholders;

6. noted that the new legislation will prevent new civil claims being brought and noted with concern the proposal to terminate pending inquests that have not reached substantive hearings, bearing in mind the progress finally being made in those inquests further to the measures recently undertaken, including the establishment and funding of a specialised Legacy Inquest Unit, a five-year plan and active case-management by the Presiding Coroner; also noting that such cases can be taken over by the ICRIR for review under its own proposed process;

7. noted that others have raised concerns and questions about whether the provisions of the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill, if enacted, would be compatible with the Convention; noting also the United Kingdom’s position that the legislation is compatible with its Convention obligations;

8. considered in particular that additional information is required to enable the Committee to make a full assessment of the effectiveness and Convention-compliance of the proposed Independent Commission for Reconciliation and Information Recovery;

9. instructed the Secretariat to prepare a list of detailed questions in that respect to be sent to the United Kingdom authorities for their response by 1 August 2022;

10. requested in addition that the United Kingdom authorities provide information on the progress of the draft legislation, including on the process of engagement undertaken and planned to gain confidence and bring stakeholders on board;

11. decided to resume consideration of this group at their 1443rd meeting (September 2022) (DH)