Victims call for Amnesty probe into its Northern Ireland branch

Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International
Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International

A coalition of 21 Northern Ireland terror victims groups has called on Amnesty International UK to investigate the conduct of its Northern Ireland branch.

The call has come from Innocent Victims United (IVU). In yesterday’s News Letter spokesman Kenny Donaldson said IVU did not support an Amnesty event for Troubles victims at Stormont, because he said Amnesty had failed to deliver on promises to highlight the alleged failure of the Republic in relation to Troubles-related extraditions and border security, and human rights abuses by terrorists including the impact of ongoing glorification of terrorism.

Amnesty NI spokesman Patrick Corrigan responded that members of victims group JIVT, of which Mr Donaldson is secretary, did take part in the Amnesty event.

But Mr Donaldson said that JIVT took a collective decision not to attend the event because Amnesty had “failed to publicly reflect our views”.

He said one board member of JIVT did take part – but said the Victims Commission has confirmed he was there as their representative.

“We challenge Amnesty International UK to launch an investigation into the behaviour of its Northern Ireland Branch,” he added.

Mr Corrigan replied that Amnesty “does not seek or claim to represent all victims”, adding: “What we are trying to do is to amplify the voices of those denied and demanding justice.”

Full statement from Kenny Donaldson, spokesman for IVU and Company Secretary for Justice for Innocent Victims of Terrorism Ltd:

“Amnesty International do not have any significant level of credibility within the innocent victims and survivors of terrorism constituency,” he said.

“This is not a view that people have reached lightly or without being ‘informed.’ It’s the reality of the approaches that organisation has taken for over 30 years in respect of this place and our ‘Troubles.’

“Yesterday and also today, families connected to the Claudy atrocity have expressed to us their hurt and feelings of betrayal at what they heard conveyed by Amnesty N.I in the last 24 hours in Radio Interviews. They are asking the question; are there different policy positions at bay within the organisation? Just like J.I.V.T Ltd, these families met with representatives from the International Secretariat of the organisation and were given commitments and assurances around the organisation’s intent with respect to terrorism.”

“The belief held by the innocent victims and survivors of terrorism is that Amnesty International has spent 30 years berating the UK State with respect to the ‘Northern Ireland Troubles’ but hasn’t laid a glove on the actions of terrorists - the human rights violations that they have been guilty of and nor has the organisation sought to hold to account the Republic of Ireland State and its’ non-compliance with Article 2 of the Human Rights Convention - Right to Life.”

“Despite our justified concerns about the operations of Amnesty N.I over the last 3 plus decades, J.I.V.T Ltd and innocent victims and survivors of terrorism were prepared to give the organisation the opportunity to prove us wrong - we put it up to them and they have failed.”

“In yesterday’s Edition of the News Letter and in a UTV News Programme aired on Monday night, Amnesty N.I’s Spokesman Patrick Corrigan attempted to give an impression that the organisation has a cross-section of support within the Victim/Survivor constituency. Mr Corrigan’s assertion that Justice for Innocent Victims of Terrorism Ltd were present at yesterday’s Stormont event is a flagrant lie. The individual to whom he refers (Stephen Gault) is a member of J.I.V.T Ltd’s Management Board but he was present at yesterday’s event as a member of the Northern Ireland Victims Forum. This was advised to Mr Corrigan prior to last night’s Programme being filmed.”

“J.I.V.T Ltd took a Management Board policy decision not to attend yesterday’s event on the basis that Amnesty International had failed to publicly reflect our views, issues and concerns as conveyed with their International Secretariat reps 3 weeks previously. This was in spite of commitments and understandings given to the contrary on that day where it was acknowledged that the issues we raised were not included (in any meaningful way) within Amnesty’s Dealing with the Past Report. Readers should be informed that neither J.I.V.T Ltd or IVU have ever been contacted by the Northern Ireland Branch of Amnesty - why will be the question you’ll rightly ask.”

“Amnesty International have big organisational issues to resolve and how they set about this task will prove their commitment or otherwise as an organisation to being consistent around ‘human rights abuses.’ J.I.V.T Ltd and IVU are consistent in approach, murder or criminality whether perpetrated by Republican or Loyalist terrorists or by individual members of the Security Forces who have been evidentially proven to have dishonoured the code should all be held responsible for their actions. That same logic applies with the UK and R.O.I States.”

“Let no-one be under any illusion; there were terrorists in this Country (Republican and Loyalist) and there were individual members of the Security Forces who stepped outside the code and engaged in murder and criminality. No attempts to ‘bury,’ ‘airbrush,’ or ‘equalise’ the Past will change these facts. 91-92% of deaths were and are attributable to the actions of proscribed Terrorist organisations with the remainder of deaths caused by the actions of individual members of the security forces of which a sub-section have been proven to have been murder/criminal actions.”

“Come back to Innocent Victims United and J.I.V.T Ltd when you have got your house in order.”