• February 6, 2010

The Celtic League has pressed the Northern Ireland Government to ensure that any inquiries into unsolved murders of `human rights defenders’ are independent and credible.

It is now eighteen months since the United Nations Human Rights Committee set out this criteria for such inquiries and the League have asked NIO Chief Shaun Woodward what, if any progress has been made (see below):

“Shaun Woodward MP
Secretary of State
Northern Ireland Office
11 Millbank


Dear Minister.

I refer to the Concluding Observations of the United Nations Human Rights Committee – International Covenant on Civil Political Rights – (CCPR) in its most recent report on United Kingdom (July 2008) in which it says in paragraph 9:

“The Committee remains concerned that, a considerable time after murders (including of human rights defenders) in Northern Ireland have occurred, several inquiries into these murders have still not been established or concluded, and that those responsible for these deaths have not yet been prosecuted. Even where inquiries have been established, the Committee is concerned that instead of being under the control of an independent judge, several of these inquiries are conducted under the Inquiries Act 2005 which allows the Government minister who is responsible for establishing an inquiry to control important aspects of that inquiry. (art.6)

The State party should conduct, as a matter of particular urgency given the passage of time, independent and impartial inquiries in order to ensure a full, transparent and credible account of the circumstances surrounding violations of the right to life in Northern Ireland.”

Given that the United Kingdom government has now had over eighteen months to consider the report can you advise what steps it is/has taken to address the CCPRs concerns. Could we also ask if the Committee’s specific emphasis for an enquiry which is independent, impartial, full and credible has been taken on board by Her Majesty’s government.

Yours sincerely,

J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information”

The UN report can be accessed at:


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