The Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill is set to receive Royal Assent and become law in the UK after concluding its Parliamentary passage on Tuesday. Despite being set to complete the final step before becoming an act of Parliament, the bill has received widespread criticism for its content.
The Northern Ireland Troubles Bill completed its first reading in Parliament in May 2022 and has moved back and forth between the houses for the last year. On Tuesday, the bill returned to the House of Lords for the second time for consideration of Commons amendments. With both houses now agreeing on the text, it is set to become law. The bill intends to “address the legacy of the Northern Ireland Troubles and promote reconciliation.” It tries to achieve this goal by creating an Independent Commission for Reconciliation and Information Recovery, which will limit criminal investigations, legal proceedings, inquests and police complaints into events that happened during the Troubles. It also extends the prisoner release scheme.
Multiple groups and individuals have expressed their concern over the bill, including the UN. In a statement issued via social media, the UN Human Rights Office stated that they “deeply regret the passage” of the bill as it “violates the UK’s international human rights obligations.” They urged the UK government to reconsider the bill and change its focus to victims’ rights. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk stated, “Respect for rights of victims, survivors, and their families to truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence is essential for reconciliation. Their rights must be placed at the heart of all attempts to address the legacy of the Troubles.”
The date for Royal Assent is yet to be decided.