Belfast Telegraph

UUP's Beattie calls on sexual crimes to be included in HIU remit

Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie has warned sexual violence is at risk of being overlooked by a new body set up to investigate Troubles-related crimes.

The Historical Investigation Unit - laid out in 2014's Stormont House Agreement - takes over work previously carried out by the PSNI's Legacy Investigations Branch which operated between 2014 and 2017, and the Historical Enquiries Team between 2005 and 2014.

Mr Beattie, the UUP's justice spokesperson, said "by its nature" the new body "does not address legacy in the fullest of terms".

"It will only investigate Troubles-related deaths and will not touch any other crime, such as individuals critically injured by terrorist or state actions, attempted murder, causing an explosion, collusion where there has been no fatality or legacy sexual crime," he said.

"This issue of sexual violence and rape as a weapon of war is globally well known and many would think of conflicts in Africa and more recently in the Middle-East where it has been shown to be a weapon of choice for many armed groups.  However, we are yet to explore sexual violence and rape within our own society during the Troubles as a manifestation of the conflict."

Mr Beattie added victims of rape and sexual violence from the nationalist or republican communities may have been more resistant to go to the police, and noted the case of Mairia Cahill as an exception of this.

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has previously described the way the IRA dealt with allegations of sexual abuse as "inadequate and inappropriate".

"The bottom line is that here in Northern Ireland, once the HIU has been set up, there will be no mechanisms to investigate such crimes," Mr Beattie said.

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