Government Plans to Appeal Ruling Deeming Legacy Act ‘Unlawful

Credits: Washington Post

The UK Government has announced it will appeal a ruling by the High Court in Belfast that found a key element of the Northern Ireland Troubles Legacy Act to be unlawful.

Last week, Mr Justice Adrian Colton ruled that the provision for conditional immunity from prosecution for Troubles offenses in the legislation is not compliant with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and that it will not contribute to reconciliation in Northern Ireland.

However, Justice Colton did rule that a new body set up to probe Troubles killings could carry out human rights-compliant investigations. Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris said the government would consider Justice Colton’s findings carefully but reiterated its commitment to implementing the Legacy Act.

Government Ends Affirmation Action (Credits: NBC News)

Despite the ruling, the UK Government has lodged an application to appeal against it, stating that it remains committed to implementing the Legacy Act and delivering the Independent Commission for Reconciliation and Information Recovery (ICRIR) to provide better outcomes for victims and survivors of the Troubles.

The Legacy Act received royal assent in September, despite opposition from political parties, victims’ organizations in Northern Ireland, and the Irish Government.

It includes provisions for a limited form of immunity from prosecution for those who cooperate with the ICRIR, as well as halting future civil cases and legacy inquests related to the Troubles.

Several Troubles victims have launched legal action challenging the human rights compliance of the Act. Additionally, the Irish Government has launched an interstate legal case against the UK Government over the Legacy Act, arguing that it breaches human rights laws.