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Allister refers "On the runs" bill to EU

14 November 2005

DUP MEP Jim Allister has written, in the terms below, to the Justice Commissioner of the EU, inviting him to consider whether the "On the Runs" Bill is in accordance with Europe's level of expectation in regard to the protection of the human rights of victims.

Dear Commissioner

The EU Commission regularly engages itself in respect of breaches of human rights throughout the world.  I wish on this occasion to invite you to examine a situation within the EU.

Victims of violence are within the EU recognised as having various human rights, including the right to an effective remedy before a national authority, such as is set out in Article 13 of the European Convention of Human Rights.  This has properly been interpreted as including the right to see the perpetrator of the crime, which made them a victim, proportionately punished. 

Within the UK the Government has recently published the Northern Ireland (Offences) Bill.  This Bill proposes that wanted terrorists, commonly referred to as "On The Runs", should have created for them a special process whereby:

 they cannot be arrested, detained or remanded, even on bail (Clause 7(2));
 they do not even have to attend court (Clause 8(3));
 they could never be imprisoned, for even one minute, in respect of their crimes (Clause 9);
 they could never thereafter be questioned about their crimes;
 their identity might even be kept secret on certification by the Secretary of State (Clause 4(8) and Schedule 4 Rule 5e).

I respectfully suggest that this proposed legislation involves such a denial of the human rights of victims, particularly the right to have an effective remedy, that you should show an interest in it and give us the benefit of your opinion.

How can a process which deliberately sets out to give special treatment to the perpetrators of crimes, often murder, so that they are kept out of prison, even approach providing an effective remedy for the victims of these crimes?  It is a shameful farce and gross abuse of both the human rights of victims and the judicial process.

Moreover, the normal facility for judicial review of decisions by bodies involved in this special process is removed (Clauses 15 and 17) and there is no provision to take into account the views of the victims or the impact of the crime upon them.

In all these circumstances, I implore you to take a stand on this legislation in defence of the human rights of victims.

Yours sincerely,

James H Allister QC MEP

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