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Victims' watchdog seeks clarity on new legacy laws

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Victims Commissioner Judith Thompson

Victims Commissioner Judith Thompson

PA

Victims Commissioner Judith Thompson

Victims' Commissioner Judith Thompson has called on Secretary of State Brandon Lewis to urgently publish the details of the proposed legacy legislation.

Last month the UK Government announced that repeat investigations into Troubles cases are to end. At the time Mr Lewis said ending the cycle of reinvestigations when there is no new compelling evidence would deliver on the Government's promise to protect former soldiers from "vexatious claims".

Under the new proposals, once cases have been considered, there will be a legal bar on any future investigation occurring.

They include a pledge to ensure that Troubles veterans receive equal treatment to their counterparts who served overseas.

The proposals also include a "new independent body" to provide information to families and "swift examinations" of all unresolved deaths from the Troubles.

This week a new report by a group of academics from Queen's University and human rights activists said the proposals are incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights and the Good Friday Agreement.

Catholic bishops have also written to Mr Lewis expressing their "deep concern" at the proposal to deal with legacy issues.

The commissioner said: "The aim of addressing the legacy of the past must be to build a better future. It is vital that those who have waited so long for legacy institutions, that have had the widest possible consultation and input, are not simply swept aside in haste to drive through options that will result in yet more decades of legal challenge, hurt, frustration and distrust."

Belfast Telegraph