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Pat Finucane Centre welcomes Batang Kali judgment

Published 25/11/2015

Northern Ireland Attorney General John Larkin submitted written argument to the Supreme Court outlining the extent of the state's human rights obligations
Northern Ireland Attorney General John Larkin submitted written argument to the Supreme Court outlining the extent of the state's human rights obligations

A Supreme Court judgment on the Batang Kali shootings has been broadly welcomed by human rights campaigners in Northern Ireland.

The Pat Finucane Centre (PFC), a non-governmental organisation (NGO) which represents victims of the 30-year sectarian conflict, claimed the ruling paved a "positive" way forward for those seeking fresh probes into controversial Troubles-related deaths.

A PFC statement said: "In its ruling, the Supreme Court said, inter alia, that it 'recognised the right of an individual to petition the European Court of Human Rights' from that date (14 January 1966).

"The PFC adds that virtually all of the conflict-related deaths currently in dispute - where families are seeking to find out as much as possible about who was responsible, and why - are therefore affected positively by today's ruling as they took place post January 14, 1966."

The case was taken to the Supreme Court by families of 24 civilians shot dead by British troops at the Batang Kali rubber plantation in Malaya in 1948.

However, submissions were also made by the PFC and the London-based Rights Watch (UK) who claimed the British Government is duty-bound to investigate allegations of human rights violations by State forces during the Troubles.

Solicitor Darragh Mackin from KRW Law, which represented both NGOs, said: "Whilst not being a satisfactory result for the relatives of victims of the Batang Kali massacre, the judgment does have an important impact for dealing with historic related murders in this jurisdiction (Northern Ireland).

"The court has held that the obligation on the British state to investigate suspicious deaths arises from the date the state granted the right of individual petition, namely 1966.

"This therefore gives rise to an obligation on the British government to undertake human rights compliant investigations into conflict related incidents, where necessary in order to discharge its duties."

The region's Attorney General John Larkin also submitted written argument to the Supreme Court outlining the extent of the state's human rights obligations.

Mr Larkin is currently being challenged at Belfast High Court over his decision not to order a fresh inquest for a father of nine killed in Londonderry almost 30 years ago.

Eugene Dalton, 54, was blown up by an IRA booby trap bomb intended for police or Army personnel in Derry's Creggan area in 1988. He and two others had gone to check on the welfare of a neighbour and the incident became known as the "Good Samaritan bomb".

His family is seeking leave to judicially review the Attorney's decision.

In 2013, a Police Ombudsman investigation said, while responsibility for the deaths rested with the people who planted the bomb, police had failed to protect the victims and the subsequent murder investigation was flawed, inadequate and incomplete.

Mr Larkin said the Supreme Court judgment was "helpful" in a "difficult area".

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