THE POLICE Ombudsman's Office have informed victim's group Relatives for Justice (RFJ) that they will not be investigating the cases involving 26 families due to the British government's controversial Legacy Bill.
Relatives for Justice received 26 letters from the Police Ombudsman's Office addressed to each family to say they would not be in a 'position to investigate' complaints due to the Legacy Bill.
The victims' group said all of the 26 letters were addressed to families in a similar and impersonal manner and did not mention the names of the person who was killed or any acknowledgement of the pain this would cause to families.
RFJ added many of the families involved made the original complains to the Ombudsman's Office "many, many years ago".
Those who were bereaved during the conflict should be treated with the utmost respect, especially if they have taken a case to the Police Ombudsman suspecting state culpability in the killing. It breaks my heart to think of those families receiving such news. Appalling.— Anne Cadwallader 💙 #truth #justice #humanrights (@AnneCadwallader) November 15, 2023
Relatives for Justice Chairperson, Professor Emeritus Bill Rolston, said: "This morning our offices are contacting the families involved to deliver this devastating news to bereaved parents, children, spouses and siblings. We need to visit some very elderly relatives who will not be in a position to receive phone calls due to their infirmity.
“I can hardly describe the impact of these letters to families. While a totally inappropriate process of decision making and information sharing by the Police Ombudsman, this is the devastating outworking of the British Government’s shameful Legacy Act.
“Further it is a legislative horror that is undermining the criminal justice architecture of the Good Friday Agreement.
“But most of all this development will have long-term implications with another trauma heaped upon already traumatised families.
“The pretence that this is in any way a victim-centred process is exposed, but that is no comfort to families who are once again being let down by the state.”
Yesterday afternoon the Office of the Police Ombudsman delivered 26 letters to our offices which were addressed to 26 families whom Relatives for Justice supports.— Relatives 4 Justice #NeverGivingUp (@RelsForJustice) November 15, 2023
Apart from the opening line of address each letter said exactly the same thing – that due to the Legacy Act the…
North Belfast Sinn Féin MP John Finucane criticised the manner of the letters and denounced the British government's Legacy Bill.
“The manner in which these letters have been sent to 26 families is disgraceful and cold," he said.
“These letters are not individual to the families. Rather, they are a generic and impersonal letter which fails to take into account the sensitivities or grief felt by families who are waiting decades for the truth of what happened to their loved one.
“The British government’s cynical and cruel Legacy Bill was only about one thing; closing the door on families ever getting truth and justice.
“This flawed and irredeemable bill was rejected by victims, all political parties on this island, human rights experts, churches, the US, UN, EU and Irish Government.
“I am once again calling on the Irish government to confront this denial of human rights and breach of international human rights law through an interstate case and international action against the British government.”