UK Legacy Bill does not fit ECHR – CAJ
The Committee on the Administration of Justice has stated quite clearly that British proposals on legacy issues, as introduced to the UK parliament on 17th May in the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill, do not meet the UK’s obligation under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Brian Gormally, director of CAJ, said: “The first problem with this Bill comes right at the beginning in the Secretary of State’s declaration that it is compatible with European Convention rights. It is not – the Bill drives a coach and horses through the obligation for a proper, independent, investigation into suspicious deaths, especially where the state may be involved. This is the law of the land, enshrined in the Human Rights Act, itself a product of the Good Friday Agreement. The Bill only speaks of ‘reviews’ – not investigations. The new body will have limited powers and will only effectively get information that the various agencies want it to have. Civil actions and inquests that have not reached an ‘advanced stage’ will be discontinued, thus depriving victims of the information that these routes can bring. The much-criticised blanket amnesty has been dropped but only to be replaced by a theoretically conditional amnesty, but one which is still deliberately skewed to favour state agents…..” CAJ has called for it to be scrapped in favour of the prior proposals in the Stormont House Agreement. https://caj.org.uk/
lMeanwhile academic and human rights experts from QUB and CAJ have found the Bill “unworkable”, in breach of the Good Friday Agreement and international human rights law and state it would not deliver for victims and survivors. http://www.dealingwiththepastni.com/project-outputs/project-reports
Large fine for Shannon peace activists
At the start of May, Ken Mayers (85) and Tarak Kauff (80) were fined €5,000 each for an action at Shannon Airport in March 2019 for which they pleaded not guilty. They faced three charges: criminal damage, trespass, and interfering with airport operations and safety. They were cleared of the first two charges but found guilty on the last charge which is one which the state is now using to try to criminalise peace protesters.
The €5,000 fine was substantial for people of their age and especially so given they had originally been imprisoned for 13 days before being allowed out on bail, and had been denied the right to return home, to the USA, for 9 months while their passports were held. Ridiculously the money for the fine had to be handed in – in cash – within just over an hour of the verdict or they faced possible imprisonment until it was paid; peace activist groups and individuals did a substantial whip around.
Those attending spoke of them as very inspirational and impressive witnesses and even the prosecution witnesses spoke highly of their behaviour. While they had their enforced 9 months in Ireland they travelled and spoke widely and that and their original action, to inspect USA war planes or planes used for war, has been a significant service to the cause of peace in Ireland.
Shannonwatch spokesperson Edward Horgan said “This exceptionally punitive sentence is a move clearly aimed at discouraging peaceful objection to Ireland’s complicity in war. By imposing such a heavy fine at the sentencing hearing on Wednesday 4th May, Judge Patricia Ryan has effectively disregarded the lawful excuse Tarak Kauff and Ken Mayers had for entering the airport in March 2019, and sent a strong message that opposition to the war industry will not be tolerated. The Veterans for Peace sole aim was to end the cycles of killing that Ireland is complicit in, despite its claims to be neutral.”
Edward Horgan continued: “No senior US political or military US leaders have ever been held accountable for war crimes committed in these Middle East wars, and no Irish officials have been held accountable for active complicity in these war crimes. Yet over 38 peace activists, including Mayers and Kauff, have been prosecuted for carrying out fully justified nonviolent peace actions at Shannon Airport in order to expose and try to prevent Irish complicity in these war crimes.” See http://www.shannonwatch.org/content/fine-imposed-shannon-two-shows-peaceful-opposition-war-industry-will-not-be-tolerated and other media.
ICCL strongly opposes Garda use of facial recognition technology
ICCL/Irish Council for Civil Liberties has come out strongly against the use of facial recognition technology by An Garda Síochána “given their poor record on data protection. Additionally, neither An Garda Síochána or the Department of Justice have shown any demonstration that using FRT is either necessary or proportionate – a legal requirement under human rights law.” They go on to say “FRT and other biometric surveillance tools enable mass surveillance and discriminatory targeted surveillance. They have the capacity to identify and track people everywhere they go, undermining the right to privacy and data protection, the right to free assembly and association, and the right to equality and non-discrimination. FRT systems are known for their inability to correctly identify faces that are not white and male, due to inherent biases.” This is in relation to The Garda Digital Recordings Bill (currently going through the Oireachtas) which proposes to authorise Garda access to third party CCTV through a live feed. See https://www.iccl.ie/ and petition on the issue there.
l Meanwhile ICCL, among many other issues, is continuing to work on the restriction to the funding of civic groups involved in campaigning. Despite a cross-party Oireachtas group proposing change, and criticism from the UN, there have been no proposed changes made to this in the Electoral Reform Bill; ICCL state “A poorly drafted law has led to unintended consequences where the rights of community organisations to engage in public policy has been frustrated.“ See also https://www.iccl.ie/
Galway Alliance Against War: Irish peace webinar This is organised by Galway Alliance Against War/GAAW and Free Assange Ireland on Saturday, 4th June at 2pm. The event includes contributions from Noam Chomsky, John Pilger, Clare Daly, Mick Wallace and Irish journalists Harry Browne and Eoin Ó Murchú. The title of the webinar is taken from a quotation by the imprisoned journalist and founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, “If wars can be started by lies, peace can be started by truth.” See https://www.facebook.com/groups/312442090965 or go directly to Zoom link at https://us06web.zoom.us/j/83983486949?pwd=RjdoOUxzb2x3d2pIOHNObEtRMWNuUT09
Getting out the vote
Particularly relevant given the contentiousness of voting and voting results in Northern Ireland, the de Borda Institute has issued a statement on electoral practice in the recent elections and how it deviates from OSCE standards. http://www.deborda.org/home/2022/5/10/2022-7-ni-assembly-elections.html
Water Protectors: From Standing Rock to the Sperrins
21 indigenous water protectors are coming to Ireland from 14th to 30th July in solidarity with communities protecting air, land and water. The main sites of visit will be communities on the frontlines of resisting extractivism – particularly mining, and protecting air, land and water in Co. Leitrim, the Sperrins, Co. Tyrone and Inishowen, Co. Donegal. There will be a ceremonial water walk along the River Foyle and many moments of celebration, exchange and theatre. The visit is organised by Making Relatives, a collective of community groups and activists involved in environmental and social justice work on the island of Ireland. ‘Making Relatives’ refers to the Lakota value of kinship – and making relatives is also a verb, creating networks of care. See https://makingrelativesireland.wordpress.com/ and there is a linked crowdfunding site to meet transport and hosting costs https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/p/making-relatives-1 Source: FOE-NI, see https://www.facebook.com/foenorthernireland
FOE proposes Government plan to prepare for winter
Friends of the Earth Ireland has published a “Five-point plan for Government to cut bills, save energy and reduce pollution”. As households have now received the last Fuel Allowance payment for this season and with the Russian invasion of Ukraine entering its fourth month, the environmental justice organisation has called for “a concerted emergency response from the whole of Government to do five things” before next winter sees the energy crisis hit home even more. The plan contains 48 specific recommendations from inflation-proofing social welfare to free school buses to a moratorium on new data centres. See https://www.foe.ie/news/2022/05/23/a-5point-plan-for-government-to-cut-bills-save-energy-and-reduce-pollution/ with link to full report.
Afri Famine Walk video: Tackling global warming and warring
Afri’s Doolough Famine Walk was back on the road, literally, on 21st May after two years online and a powerful 13 minute video can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJCGa1htJDc See also www.afri.ie
Ukraine war and militarism round up
lYou can find World Beyond War’s ‘Mapping Militarism’ resource at https://worldbeyondwar.org/mapping-militarism-2022/
lResistance to war continues in Russia despite the difficulties, and difficulties in reporting chapter and verse because of repercussions: “many people are turning picketing into provocative performances with the purpose to test whether such an action would be considered illegal by the police. The officials of a country that claims to have conquered Nazism ban the most harmless slogans: ‘Fascism will not pass’, ‘No to fascism’, ‘No to Nazism’, and ‘I am pro-peace’. The same applies to the most popular slogan, ‘No to war’ (Нет войне), which was chanted by protesters, and even posters in which the two words, constituting the Russian phrase for ‘No to war’, are replaced by rows of asterisks, a taunting remark on the fact that the government bans the use of the word ‘war’ because it is officially called a ‘special military operation.’ “
l Former combatants from the Lebanon have written an open letter to fighters and soldiers in Ukraine and Russia http://castor.divergences.be/IMG/pdf/ffp_manifesto_ukraine_all.pdf
l A statement by Russian COs/conscientious objectors can be found on the WRI website at https://wri-irg.org/
l Calls for ceasefires include https://apjjf.org/2022/10/McCormack-Selden.html https://www.ipb.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/ipb_ituc_appeal.pdf and https://act.worldbeyondwar.org/ceasefire_in_ukraine/
l Statements by the US Peace Council on the war in Ukraine can be found at https://uspeacecouncil.org
l A statement by Church and Peace is available at https://www.church-and-peace.org/en/2022/05/churches-challenged-to-the-path-of-nonviolence/
Feasta (the Foundation for the Economics of Sustainability) is an ecological economics think tank, based in Ireland and with international membership. ‘Feasta’ is the Irish word for ‘in the future’. The aims are to identify the characteristics (economic, cultural and environmental) of a truly sustainable society, articulate how the necessary transition can be effected and promote the implementation of the measures required for this purpose. See the website at https://www.feasta.org/ – the 2021 annual report shows the breadth of work done – and if you might be interested in being involved, contact email@example.com
Climate Justice candles from Eco-Congregation Ireland
Eco-Congregation Ireland (ECI) has four climate justice candles, one for each of the four provinces in Ireland, to be used to raise awareness of the issue. If you are a member of a church or faith community which would like to host the candle all you have to do is contact firstname.lastname@example.org If you would like to learn more about this project visit the ECI website at https://www.ecocongregationireland.com/shine-a-light-on-climate-justice/ and if you keep scrolling down you can read stories of faith communities from various traditions and how they used a candle.