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Human Rights Day call to British government

* News Release Issued by the International Secretariat of Amnesty International *

News Service 232/99
AI INDEX: EUR 45/51/99
10 December 1999

MEDIA ADVISORY

Northern Ireland

Human Rights Day call to British government

Six human rights organizations today issued a joint statement to the British government calling for a thorough, impartial and independent inquiry into the killing of human rights lawyer Rosemary Nelson. Loyalist paramilitaries claimed responsibility for the car bomb which killed her nearly nine months ago.

The organizations recognize the current criminal investigation is limited to the circumstances of the murder and will not be able to address government responsibility and the crucial issues of impunity and accountability in the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). The death of Rosemary Nelson undermined the rule of law and was a serious indictment of the Royal Ulster Constabulary's (RUC) failure to protect her life.

The failure to carry out an independent inquiry into the death of human rights lawyer Patrick Finucane ten years ago has contributed to a pattern of impunity and intimidation of lawyers by police officers.

The remit of the independent inquiry should include investigation of: - - abRosemary Nelson's complaints against RUC harassment and intimidation, which should be in the context of investigating alleged RUC harassment and intimidation of other lawyers through their clients in special interrogation centres; - - abdeath threats received by Rosemary Nelson in the context of death threats made to others by Loyalist paramilitaries at the same time; - - abthe RUC's failure to initiate an impartial investigation into her allegations of consistent threats; - - abthe RUC's failure to investigate other lawyers'allegations of threats and intimidation; - - abthe RUC's failure to take Rosemary Nelson's fears seriously, to take complaints from human rights organizations seriously, and ultimately to protect her life; - - abthe Northern Ireland Office's failure to ensure protection of Rosemary Nelson's life; - - abthe Northern Ireland Office's failure to implement most of the recommendations made by the UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers in 1998 concerning the intimidation of lawyers.

The statement was issued by Amnesty International, British Irish rights watch, the Center for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers of the International Commission of Jurists (CIJL), Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ), Human Rights Watch (HRW), and Lawyers Committee for Human Rights (LCHR).

The full statement is available on request. For more information please call: CAJ Paul Mageean in Belfast, on + 44 1232 232394 HRW Julia Hall in the US, on + 1 716 803 1127 CIJL Mona Rishmawi in Geneva, on + 41 22 979 3800 LCHR Lisa J. Laplante in New York, on + 1 212 845 5295

ENDS.../ Amnesty International, International Secretariat, 1 Easton Street, WC1X 8DJ, London, United Kingdom

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