Issue 2 - 2024 200dpi

18 October 2001 Edition

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Euro Court orders Brits to compensate detainees

The European Court of Human Rights at Strasbourg has ordered the British government to pay compensation to two republicans detained in Castlereagh Holding Centre in Belfast.

One of the cases concerned the arrest and detention of Derry City Sinn Féin councillor Gerry Ó hEara, who was arrested in 1985 and detained in Castlereagh where he was questioned in relation to a killing.

O'hEara was detained for 6 days and 13 hours and he sued the British government under Article 5.1 of the Convention of Human Rights saying there was no reasonable suspicion that he had committed an offence when he was arrested.

Although the court did not find in his favour on that claim it did however find that the British government had violated Article 5.3 of the Convention.

Article 5.3 says that a person should not be detained for more than four days before being brought before a judge. The court ruled that Ó hEara be awarded £11,000.

In the second case, Thomas Brennan was arrested and questioned in connection with the killing of A British UDR soldier. Brennan was held in Castlereagh from 21 to 25 October and only saw his solicitor on 23 October. During the solicitor's visit, an RUC member remained in the room.

Brennan said the delay in seeing his solicitor meant his right to a fair trial was prejudiced. He was subsequently convicted, on the basis of signed confessions, of killing the UDR soldier.

The court decided that as the authorities were only responsible for the first 24 of the delay in Brennan obtaining access to his solicitor and that as he made no incriminating admissions during this period, then his rights under Article 6.1 were not violated.

The Court did find that the presence of an RUC member during his interview with his solicitor on 23 October violated his rights and awarded him £6,920.

Britain faces human rights grilling in Geneva

Sinn Féin's Pat McNamee has said that Britain will face "tough questioning" when it tries to defend its "commitment to international human rights standards" before the United Nations Committee on Human Rights in Geneva on Thursday 17 and Friday 18 October.

Speaking to An Phoblacht, McNamee, the party's newly appointed spokesperson on human rights said: "The British government's record on protecting the human rights of people in the Six Counties is coming under international scrutiny. The United Nations Human Rights Committee is meeting to examine the failure of the British government to fully comply with UN human rights standards.

"We are the only political party in the Six Counties to have made a submission to the UN Committee on Human Rights and this is the second time we will lobby the Commission. This is an indication of the importance with which we view the creation of a human rights culture here."

The Sinn Féin representative accused the British of perpetrating human rights violations in legislation and in policy. "The British government is in contravention of the UN Charter, the European Convention on Human Rights and the Good Friday Agreement," said McNamee. He said that the British will come under scrutiny in areas such as policing, the courts, repressive legislation, plastic bullets and collusion.


An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1