A group of more than 40 prominent Americans sent a letter to the US Secretary of State accusing Boris Johnson of “turning his back on the victims and survivors” of the riots and “deliberately violating international law.”
Letter to Anthony Blinken contradicts Westminster Legacy and Reconciliation Bill.
The Good Friday Agreement Ad Hoc Committee, the group that sent the letter, is made up of more than 40 people who have worked for decades to support the peace deal, including five former ambassadors and two special presidential envoys.
If passed, the bill would grant immunity from prosecution to persons cooperating with the information retrieval body.
The proposals passed a second reading last month with the support of Conservative MPs, but were not supported by any local MP.
The group said it had held three meetings in the past eight months with Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis and others to express concerns.
He added that he was disappointed that promises that the bill would honor the Good Friday Agreement and address the concerns of victims have not been kept.
After seeking independent legal advice, the participants said the plans ignored victims and violated the peace agreement and human rights standards.
They noted that all parties opposed the proposals, including the DUP and Sinn Fein.
Victim groups from trade union and nationalist communities also expressed strong opposition to these plans.
“This public reaction is hardly surprising given that prior to the introduction of the bill, there were no formal, transparent or public consultations with concerned individuals and groups in Northern Ireland,” the letter from the Select Committee to Defend the Good Friday Agreement says. .
“This lack of engagement is in stark contrast to the legacy structure that the UK and Irish governments agreed to in the Stormont House Agreement in December 2014 and reaffirmed in the 2020 New Decade Agreement.”
The group stressed that there are still “significantly more than 1,000 civil cases” in the courts and pointed to the recent Ballymurphy investigation, which found all 10 victims innocent, as evidence that truth and justice can still be ensured.
The letter argued that the proposed law violates the Good Friday Agreement and the European Convention on Human Rights, which oblige governments to effectively investigate cases of alleged state killings.
It added: “There is a consensus among independent legal experts that the pending bill fails on all counts.
“The Select Committee is doubly alarmed given the repeated personal assurances from British officials that any proposed legislation would comply with Article 2.”
The proposals, the group says, will guarantee years of drawn-out litigation in British courts and eventually the European Court of Human Rights.
“In this light, there can be no more effective way to undermine peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland regarding heritage than to accept this offer,” the letter says.
Signatories include Gary Hart, US Ambassador to Northern Ireland between 2014 and 2016; former US Ambassador to Ireland Kevin O’Malley; and Nancy Soderbergh, former US Deputy National Security Adviser.
The letter addressed to Mr. Blinken was as follows: “We understand that the bill under consideration is moving rapidly through Parliament.
“Therefore, we respectfully urge you to use all possible diplomatic channels necessary to address this potential violation of the Good Friday Agreement without delay.”
Commenting on the letter, a spokesperson for the NIO said: “The Northern Ireland Issues (Heritage and Reconciliation) Bill will put in place an effective recovery process backed by thorough and independent investigations to answer families, fulfill obligations to those who have served in Northern Ireland and help the community.” look ahead.
“The legislation will provide a comprehensive and equitable solution to heritage issues in a manner that supports the recovery and reconciliation of information, is fully consistent with international human rights obligations, and meets the needs of victims and survivors, as well as society at large.”