THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE Committee of Ministers has decided to re-open its scrutiny of UK government failures to order a public inquiry into the 1989 murder of lawyer Patrick Finucane. Amnesty International has welcomed the decision.

The European Court of Human Rights had previously ruled that the UK authorities had violated Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights by not properly investigating the murder.

In a statement released on 12 March, the Council of Europe said it had “decided to reopen their consideration of the individual measures in the case of Finucane in order to supervise the ongoing measures to ensure that they are adequate, sufficient and proceed in a timely manner; invited the authorities to clarify how the ongoing police and OPONI [Office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland] processes will proceed promptly and in line with Convention standards given the issues raised by both of those bodies in recent statements”.

The Council of Europe also “reiterated their profound concern” at the government’s failure to introduce legislation to deal with legacy issues in line with the 2014 Stormont House Agreement.

Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland programme director, said: “This is a welcome move by the Council of Europe, but it is deeply regrettable that the UK Government’s shameful refusal to open a public inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane has made it necessary.

“Given the failure to properly investigate this killing, previously identified by the European Court of Human Rights and the UK Supreme Court, it is appalling that the government continues to shirk not only their duty to the Finucane family but also their obligations under international law.

“The government must get the Finucane inquiry under way without further delay and heed Council of Europe calls for a human rights compatible approach to dealing with all outstanding legacy cases.”

Patrick Finucane, a prominent criminal defence and civil rights lawyer, was shot 14 times by loyalist paramilitaries at his Belfast home on 12 February 1989. Amnesty has supported the Finucane family’s quest for accountability ever since.

In February 2019, the Supreme Court ruled that investigations into the fatal shooting of the solicitor have not been effective and fell short of international human rights standards. In November 2020, the government again refused a public inquiry into the circumstances of his killing.

* Read the full statement from the Council of Ministers here.

* Source: Amnesty International