For Immediate Release: October 11, 2011
Washington, DC – Human Rights First today condemned British Prime Minister David Cameron’s decision not to order a full, independent inquiry into the 1989 murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane.
Prime Minister Cameron met the Finucane family today and told them that instead of the independent inquiry previously agreed to by the British government, it would instead simply have a review of the evidence by a government lawyer. “Once again, the British government has failed to follow through on its commitments to conduct an independent inquiry into allegations of official collusion in the murder of Patrick Finucane,” said Human Rights First President & CEO Elisa Massimino. “This is not what the family had been promised, and not what they deserve.”
Pat Finucane was the most high profile human rights lawyer in Northern Ireland, having successfully challenged the British Government in a series of pivotal cases during the 1980s. He was murdered in February 1989 at his home by gunmen. In 2003, Human Rights First published a report documenting evidence of collusion between British police informants and other security personnel in Finucane’s murder. As part of the Good Friday peace accord, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair committed the British government to conducting an independent inquiry if such was recommended by an international judge chosen by the parties to the agreement. Judge Peter Cory of Canada reviewed the evidence and in 2004 concluded that the case merited an independent inquiry. But the British government stalled, and it was never established.
“Today’s decision is an insult to the memory of Pat Finucane and to his family. But this case has never been just about one man, or one family. It is a test of the British Government’s commitment to accountability, the rule of law, and ultimately, to the foundations of peace. Today, once again, the government has failed that test,” said Massimino.