Ulster Human Rights Watch (UHRW) says it would be unacceptable to compel retired police officers and soldiers to co-operate with an information recovery process under proposed new legacy legislation.

The Lurgan-based registered charity says what is suggested is unbalanced. It will also serve to create the impression that former terrorists are to be treated more favourably than the men and women who protected law-abiding civilians, upheld human rights and defended democracy.

Advocacy Manager, Axel Schmidt, said: “What is outlined so far falls short of what is required.

“The Government wants to compel retired police officers and army personnel to come forward and cooperate with some form of information recovery process, which is obviously unacceptable.

“Meanwhile, Ministers seem prepared to open the door for former terrorists to come forward with the guarantee that they would not be prosecuted unless there was sufficient evidence against them and they refuse to co-operate with the information recovery process.

“This is also unacceptable as it would help them get off the hook and provide them with a platform to justify their engagement in terrorism.”

Mr Schmidt welcomed one aspect of the proposed legislation which centres on the level of disclosure of information by the State. Mr Schmidt added: “This is what needs to be encouraged without having to seek information from retired security forces personnel and terrorists.”

The creation of an oral archive is also causing concern. “In our view, this would be an unsafe route to go down as it would give former terrorists and their sympathisers the opportunity to justify their abominable actions.

“I believe innocent victims would feel most uncomfortable contributing to such a project,” said Mr Schmidt.

UHRW also questioned a proposed Reconciliation and Information Recovery Commission and wants to know what the Government means by ‘reconciliation’ since it is open to widely different interpretations.

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