McBride campaign wins backing in London

From this week’s Irish World:

A broad coalition of human rights groups came together at London’s City Hall last week, to demand that the British Army remove soldiers convicted of human rights abuses from its ranks.
The Article Seven – End Impunity Campaign was inspired by the Army’s continued retention of Scots Guardsmen Mark Wright and James Fisher, in spite of their conviction for the 1992 murder of 18-year-old Belfast man Peter McBride.
Organisers hope to achieve a change in the law that will remove the Army’s discretion to retain those convicted in similar cases in future.

The campaign launch was co-sponsored by London Mayor Ken Livingstone along with the Irish World and Derry-based human rights group the Pat Finucane Centre (PFC).
“In November, an Armed Forces Bill comes into Parliament,” PFC spokesman Paul O’Connor said. “Much of the bill concerns issues of discipline. What we want is to bring about amendments to the bill that would take away the ability of the military to retain any member of the Armed forces found guilty of a serious human rights violation.”
Most observers believe that the odds are stacked against the attempt to change the Armed Forces Bill. However, with a number of MPs interested in putting down an amendment, it may force the Government into an embarrassing vote to retain soldiers with serious criminal convictions.
Support for the amendment is likely to come from the Westminster contingent of the SDLP, which was represented at the London meeting by Alban Maginness.
“The real injustice in this case is the re-recruitment of these two murderers into the British Army,” the North Belfast MLA said. “It is the only army in the western world that deliberately recruits murderers into its ranks. It is the only army that does so in a calculated fashion, and that’s what they did in relation to the Peter McBride case.”
“There is a culture unfortunately within the British establishment that seeks to support the armed services in whatever circumstances, a culture that seeks to cover up their misdeeds. I’m ashamed to say that the British Labour Government, who promised much when it was elected some years ago, in their dealings with the McBride case have shown themselves to be slaves to that military establishment. Unfortunately, I cannot expect any great movement from them, but pressure must be kept on, and good people like this must be supported.”
Campaigners also hope to gain support from Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs, as a result of political contacts made since Peter McBride’s sister Kelly stood in the Brent East by-election in London in 2003. The current Brent East MP, Liberal Democrat front-bencher Sarah Teather has backed the McBride Campaign, as has London Mayor Ken Livingstone, whose human rights advisor Yasmin Qureshi contested the constituency for Labour earlier this year.
The Article Seven – End Impunity Campaign has also won support from a number of human rights groups.
Last week’s meeting was chaired by Halya Gowan, deputy director of Amnesty International’s Europe and Central Asia Program.



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One response to “McBride campaign wins backing in London”

  1. noise avatar

    It is never okay to lie, sometimes okay to lie

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