Ulster Human Rights Watch (UHRW) recognises that the decision by the Chief Constable to suspend the work of the PSNI Legacy Investigation Branch (LIB) is a sad consequence of the Covid-19 crisis.
The human rights organisation, which champions the cause of innocent victims of terrorism, also recognises that placing the investigations in ‘cold storage’ will inevitably and understandably cause dismay and upset amongst its clients.
UHRW Advocacy Support Manager, Axel Schmidt, said: “We understand that the PSNI will redeploy officers from the LIB to other areas of the organisation to provide effective policing cover during this health crisis of monumental proportions.
“In announcing the suspension the Chief Constable has given the assurance that the move is a temporary suspension and we must hope that the people redeployed to policing the present will not have long to wait before they can return to the very important work of policing the past.
“Innocent victims of terrorism, from whatever source, have already waited too long for information about the circumstances that led to the needless murders of their loved ones and the injuries they themselves sustained in terrorist attacks and whenever possible the pursuit of justice. It is inevitable that this delay will exacerbate their dilemma even further.
“The UHRW Advocacy Service supports the work carried out by the LIB, since its procedures have been reviewed in accordance with the recommendations issued by Her Majesty‘s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) in compliance with Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights. We also value the professional service LIB provides and therefore we must insist that suspension of the Legacy Investigation Branch will not turn out to be suppression.
Clearly, suspending the caseload was a decision that wasn’t taken lightly by the Chief Constable and we would seek his reassurance that the work will resume as soon as this lethal disease has been successfully tackled.”