Belfast Telegraph

DUP calls for definition of 'victim' shift that excludes perpetrators

By Michael McHugh

DUP leader Arlene Foster has called for the definition of a victim to be changed to exclude terrorist perpetrators.

Unionists are strongly opposed to equating paramilitaries and innocent victims.

The DUP used its submission to a Government consultation on addressing the legacy of Troubles-era deaths to press for change.

Mrs Foster said: "New UK-wide legislation to improve the definition of a victim is necessary. We consider the 2006 definition of a victim and survivor to be unacceptable. In our opinion, there is a clear distinction in law between a terrorist perpetrator and their innocent victim.

"To equate the two is morally wrong and indefensible. The Government should bring forward plans now to change the definition of a victim so there is a clear distinction made between perpetrators and victims.

"We believe this could improve the existing climate and context and offer the best prospect of new bodies proving successful."

The consultation has suggested bodies including an Historical Investigations Unit (HIU) to seek criminal prosecutions and an information retrieval organisation.

The DUP said it had "major concerns" over elements of the draft Bill proposed by the Northern Ireland Office, and without significant amendment, anticipated it will not meet the objective of properly addressing the legacy of the past.

Mrs Foster said: "The proposals are being viewed through the lens of two decades of offence and outrage felt by innocent victims and where the definition of a victim continues to be unjust and unacceptable.

"The DUP considers the best opportunity for justice to come from an investigatory team with full police powers.

"It is important that any new structures would be proportionate given 90% of deaths were caused by terrorists and there should be an end to witch hunts against those in the forces of law and order who acted bravely, honourably and appropriately."

Belfast Telegraph

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