Justice in Finucane Case Long Overdue

NEW YORK – Eighteen years since Belfast solicitor Patrick Finucane was murdered by loyalist paramilitaries in his home, there has been little progress in the establishment of a public, independent inquiry into the killing. In 2003, Human Rights First published a report documenting evidence of collusion between British police informants and other security personnel in Finucane’s murder.

“The British government has failed at every turn to follow through on its commitments to conduct an independent inquiry into the allegations of official collusion in the murder of Patrick Finucane,” said Elisa Massimino, Washington Director of Human Rights First. “If Prime Minister Blair leaves office without moving ahead in good faith to resolve the Finucane case, his government will forever be tarnished as having been part of the cover-up.”

Inquiries are ongoing in three other cases where government collusion is alleged, including into the murder of Rosemary Nelson, who was killed 8 years ago today just six months after testifying before the United States Congress about ongoing threats against human rights lawyers in Northern Ireland. And in January 2007, the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland released a public statement confirming suspicions of government collusion in a number of other murders.

“We welcome the Ombudsman’s recent report and view it as an important step towards restoring public faith in the transition to peace in Northern Ireland,” Massimino said. “But in light of these efforts, the persistent failure to establish a fair and transparent inquiry into the murder of Patrick Finucane is all the more glaring and inexcusable.”

Reform in Northern Ireland should be accompanied by a serious, honest, and transparent examination of government wrongdoing in cases where there is evidence of official collusion in serious violations of human rights. Only if such inquiries are fair and independent will there be public faith in their conclusions.

Read Human Rights First’s 2003 report, Beyond Collusion, here.

Read Human Rights First’s March 15, 2006 testimony on the Northern Ireland peace process here.

Read the Ombudsman’s report here.


Published on March 14, 2007


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