The Government believes that ending all legal proceedings for past violent crimes would facilitate reconciliation
The British Government yesterday confirmed its intention to legislate next autumn to end prosecutions on crimes associated with Northern Ireland’s violent past. The statute of limitations on criminal prosecution of those responsible for murders and other as yet unclear crimes, which the Labor Party described as an ‘amnesty in all but name’, is included in the document ‘Facing Northern Ireland’s Legacy of the Past ‘, which Minister Norman Lewis presented in the Parliament of Westminster.
“It is the best and only way to retrieve information and move forward on the path of reconciliation,” he said in the Commons. The measure will apply to “all crimes related to the Troubles (the Irish conflict)” perpetrated before the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, the engine of the peace process. British soldiers and police officers, IRA veterans and Protestant loyalist gangs will be spared standing trial for their past actions.
The proposal would put an end to 1,200 investigations into historical cases conducted by the regional police. Lewis stressed that the current system “does not work for anyone” and legal processes deepen the social rift and impede conciliation between the two dominant communities: British Unionist and Irish Nationalist.
But both sides, with their groups of victims and political representatives, reject the offer of criminal amnesty. The Government of the Republic of Ireland is also opposed to the prescription for crimes of the violent past, which the Boris Johnson Executive offers as a way to solve a constant problem for more than 20 years.
“I want to embark on the path of conciliation, but I don’t think it will be easier to do so if we sacrifice justice. The victims must be at the center. Their voices must be heard, “said the new leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), Jeffrey Donaldson.
For Sinn Fein’s ‘number two’ and Northern Ireland Deputy Prime Minister Michelle O’Neill, it is “another insult to grieving families”, who hold the military and security agents suspected of foul play in the battle against He will go. “These proposals try to place the forces of the British state above the law,” he denounced.
The conservative Executive is now betting on a historical memory scheme free from the nightmare of the courts. The fear of a criminal process hinders confessions and the search for the truth on both sides. The nationalist victims accuse Defense of blocking the investigations, hiding files and the identity of the persecuted soldiers. Unionists complain that there are few or no cases open against IRA veterans for lack of evidence and testimony.
The process advanced yesterday is anchored in three pillars. On the one hand, an entity for the recovery of information, data and facts of the crimes would be founded. An oral archive would also be created in order, according to Lewis, to “share experiences and learn from others.” Finally, the new law will allow the investigations underway to be shelved “immediately”, it would prohibit the opening of other investigations into “incidents related to the conflict” and it would eliminate the “perspective of judicial processes”.
The Northern Ireland minister reiterated his government’s intention to open talks on the proposal with Dublin, in addition to victims’ groups and political representatives in the region. It is not the first time that formulas close to amnesty have been suggested, but London is reproached for taking this path unilaterally. The peace process guaranteed the release “under license” of republican and loyalist prisoners two years after the historic international agreement.