The Pat Finucane Centre has issued a press release about the End Impunity meeting at Westminster:
House of Commons Meeting Monday Nov 7
Article Seven – End Impunity Campaign
7 PM Monday 7 November
Committee Room 6 House of Commons.
Mark Durkan, MP, SDLP, Joan Humble MP, Labour, Sarah Teather MP, Liberal Democrats, Phil Shiner, Public Interest Lawyers, Paul O’Connor, Pat Finucane Centre
Chair, Helen Shaw of INQUEST
The decision to retain in the British Army two soldiers who were convicted of the murder of 18-year-old Peter McBride in Belfast in 1992 has caused outrage in Ireland and abroad. This coming Monday a parliamentary campaign will be launched at Westminster by a cross party group of MPs. The aim of the campaign is to bring about a change in British law to close the present loophole whereby human rights violators can be retained in the British Army.
Picket RUSI conference on Tuesday Nov 8
Article Seven – End Impunity picket 1.00pm – 2.00pm
Royal United Services Institute (nearest tube Westminister)
Less than 24 hours after the Commons meeting a picket will be held at a RUSI conference* where former Scots Guard commanding officer Tim Spicer is due to speak. Since the 1992 murder Spicer has continued to offer an untruthful and fictitious version of the events surrounding the murder carried out by men under his command. The awarding of a major US security contract in Iraq to Spicer’s company, Aegis, is the subject of ongoing protests. Jean Mc Bride, mother of the victim, has been registered for the conference and intends to confront Spicer directly.
Meanwhile solicitor Phil Shiner of Public Interest Lawyers, the firm representing Iraqi victims of British Army human rights abuses in southern Iraq said in advance of the Commons meeting,
“I fully support the Mc Bride family in this unprecedented initiative. If soldiers were convicted of murder in Basra, sentenced to life imprisonment, released early and then posted to Belfast people there would be outraged. This is essentially what has happened in reverse in this case. We must end impunity. The Ministry of Defence dismisses soldiers who fail a drugs test but not those who murder another human being. This is quite simply unacceptable. ”
Families of soldiers who died at Deepcut Barracks in Surrey and in other controversial incidents are also expected to attend. A number of the Deepcut families attended a recent End Impunity meeting in London and spoke out in favour of the Mc Bride family. Jean Mc Bride has warmly welcomed the support of British Army families.
“The attitude of ordinary decent British people, including bereaved army families, has been very supportive. They too have suffered because of the sheer arrogance of the Ministry of Defence. The MoD lied in Belfast, they lied in Deepcut and now they are lying in Iraq.”
Liz Green from Durham in northern England, whose soldier son Anthony died after he was shot at the Ballykelly army base, Co Derry, in 2001 is one of those supporting the Mc Brides. “Another soldier was convicted of manslaughter for the killing of my son. He served a year, was released and readmitted back into the army the next day. Soon after he was promoted just as in the Mc Bride case. The MoD thinks it’s above the law and its time that the law was changed. The soldier who shot my son dead should have been automatically dismissed. The soldiers who shot Peter Mc Bride dead should have been automatically dismissed. Soldiers who bully someone to the edge of suicide or who murder civilians in Iraq should be automatically dismissed.”
SDLP leader Mark Durkan said,
“What we are arguing for is simple. Nobody who has been convicted of serious human rights abuses – like murder, rape or torture – should be allowed to serve in the British Army. No other European army allows this – and nor should the British Army. Be it on the streets of Belfast or of Basra, the public are entitled to know that killers and torturers are not sheltered in army ranks.”
Other speakers at Monday’s meeting will include Labour MP Joan Humble, who has been active in support of the Deepcut and Beyond Families and Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Teather. Ms Teather is MP for Brent East, a London constituency with the highest Irish vote in Britain. Paul O’Connor of the Pat Finucane Centre will provide an update on the Mc Bride case at the meeting to which the public are invited.
The decision to retain Wright and Fisher in the Army was last week defended by Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram. Speaking at a press conference at Deepcut barracks he said: “The judgements made at the time have been tested through the court of law and found not to be wanting but to be an acceptable decision.”
Note for Editors
Article 7-End Impunity Campaign
The Article 7-End Impunity Campaign seeks to remove the loophole that allows military personnel convicted of serious crimes such as murder, rape or torture to remain in service. The campaign is based on Article 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that states that “All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law.” The Mc Bride family have not been afforded that protection while the MoD has discriminated in favour of the Guardsmen.
Additional information is available on the Pat Finucane Centre website at www.patfinucanecentre.org. The Pat Finucane Centre can be reached at (028) 7126 8846 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org