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15 April 1999 Edition

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RUC and British slammed in United Nations report

Caitlin Doherty analyses the UN report that highlights collusion between the RUC and loyalist death squads and again demands an inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane. The report raises serious concerns at a time the Rosemary Nelson inquiry is set to stay in the hands of the RUC.

In a report unveiled on Monday at the United Nations Human Rights Annual Commission in Geneva, the special investigator who previously found evidence of systematic harassment of solicitors by RUC members again slammed the RUC and the British government. Dr. Dato Param Cumaraswamy's report, presented to 53 governments and hundreds of non governmental organisations, is one of the most damning reports ever produced and raises alarming concerns at a time when the Rosemary Nelson murder inquiry is set to remain in the hands of the RUC.

According a source working with a human rights NGO, had the report been written after the murder of Rosemary Nelson, it would have been even more critical than it is. And his conclusions on collusion between the RUC and loyalist death squads and the whole attitude, ethos and motivations of the organisation naturally led him to demand a public inquiry into Pat Finucane's murder and an independent international judicial inquiry and investigation into the brutal killing of Rosemary Nelson.

Flanagan accused of negligence


By accusing the RUC Chief Constable of treating with ``complete indifference'' reports of intimidation by RUC members as well as information about death threats, Dato Param Cumaraswamy is directly accusing Ronnie Flanagan of negligence which led to the murder of Rosemary Nelson.

The report states that the threatened solicitors ``were easy to identify''. However, Flanagan did not call for any meetings. The lack of confidence in the complaints system was not addressed. ``This the chief constable failed to do and allowed the situation to deteriorate,'' the report states.

On the issue of Pat Finucane's murder, Dr. Cumaraswamy expresses ``surprise'' at comments by Ronnie Flanagan that there had never been allegations of RUC involvement. He also states that there is sufficient concrete evidence to suggest RUC collusion with loyalist death squads.

The British government is also urged to publish the second report of the Stevens inquiry into allegations of institutionalised collusion between the RUC and loyalists.

RUC/loyalist collusion


It was in the oral submission to the commission that Dr. Cumaraswamy was most outspoken. He directly accused the British government, like Ronnie Flanagan, of negligence. He stated: ``I have expressed concern for her personal security and raised the threats on her life in communications to the government.''

He went much farther than in the written report, drafted before Rosmary Nelson's death, when making indirect reference to collusion between the RUC and loyalist death squads that could be covered up in an RUC-led investigation.

By stating that he hoped ``the involvement of the RUC in the investigations will not affect and taint the impartiality and credibility of the investigation'', he voiced such concerns. But he went further: ``I say this because the late Rosemary Nelson lodged several complaints against RUC officials and expressed no confidence in the RUC investigatory mechanism.''

Cumaraswamy said he was ``even more convinced that there is now a stronger case made out'' for an inquiry into Pat Finucane's murder. Hinting that the British government is attempting to cover-up yet darker findings of the Stevens, he again demanded the full and public release of the inquiry.

He also talked of the Law Society as a biased association and launched a stinging attack on those who refuse to take up delicate cases. ``I appeal to the 1,800-plus members of the Law Society to set aside their sectarian differences and join ranks in defence of the independence of their profession.''

Speaking at a memorial service for Rosemary Nelson in Geneva, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, echoed Cumaraswamy's comments by saying that there were ``dark elements'' in the murders of Rosemary Nelson and Pat Finucane that needed to be addressed.

Speaking in Geneva, Geraldine Finucane, referring to the murders of her husband Pat and of Rosemary Nelson, commented: ``Both were subjected to death threats from the same state authorities during the period prior to their murders. The circumstances surrounding both murders point almost conclusively to collusion between the RUC, British military and loyalist armed terrorist groups.'' She later added: ``The recent outrageous murder of Rosemary Nelson emphasises the urgent need for serious public scrutiny of the whole issue of collusion, which has never been investigated to public satisfaction''.

British government response


The British government's response to the document is a clumsy document. But what is most disturbing about it is the way in which it totally dismisses allegations of RUC collusion in the case of Rosemary Nelson's murder. In one sentence, the British government confirms widespread concerns that an RUC-led investigation and inquiry is unacceptable and would merely serve as a cover-up.

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