For Immediate Release: December 12, 2012
Washington, DC - Human Rights First expressed disappointment at the De Silva report issued today into the murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane in 1989.
Last year, the British government ordered lawyer Sir Desmond De Silva to review existing evidence in the case. The De Silva report confirms British government involvement in the killing, and UK Prime Minister David Cameron today apologized, admitting to “shocking levels of collusion” by British state agents and loyalist paramilitaries.
But the report was sharply criticized by the Finucane family, who said the British government had tried to put the blame on people who are now dead and organizations now disbanded while government ministers and existing security were exonerated.
The De Silva review is the latest in a long history of government investigations and reports about the Finucane murder. Previous investigations into the murder have found sufficient evidence of state collusion to warrant an independent public inquiry, and the UK government promised to conduct such an inquiry as part of an international agreement. It has repeatedly failed to deliver on that commitment.
“By failing to conduct an independent inquiry into Pat Finucane’s death, the British Government is reneging on its commitment and violating its international obligations,” said Human Rights First President and CEO Elisa Massimino. “Today’s report was not what the Finucane family was promised, and is not what they deserve.”
Pat Finucane was one of 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.
“Without a full and independent inquiry—and the accountability that must follow from it—the UK government sends a dangerous message: that State collusion in the murder of human rights lawyers and other citizens can take place with impunity. No apology, however heartfelt and welcome, can take the place of transparency and accountability. This is what is required, by justice and to ensure that the State never again colludes with murderers to silence its critics,” said Massimino.