Washington—In response to the release today of Sir Desmond de Silva’s report on his review of papers relating to the 1989 murder in Northern Ireland of human rights attorney Patrick Finucane, Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04), Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission), released the following statement:
The release of this report in no way fulfills the British government’s promise, which it freely undertook in the 2001 Weston Park Agreement, to conduct a public inquiry regarding collusion in the Finucane murder if so recommended by former Canadian Supreme Court Justice Peter Cory. Justice Cory formally recommended such an inquiry in 2004. Since that time the British government has delayed. It has changed its law on public inquiries, so as to give it political control over what in 2001 was a judicial process. It has insulted the Finucane family by calling to London, for a meeting with Prime Minister Cameron, the widow of the man in whose death it admits shocking collusion, only to tell her it will not fulfill its promise.
To his credit, the Prime Minister has apologized. But to acknowledge such a serious official crime, yet to say that there will not be an independent judicial investigation nor will those ultimately responsible for this crime be punished, is a grotesque injustice. The British government is a respected friend and ally, yet Sir Desmond de Silva’s document review is in no sense the equivalent of, or substitute for, the public inquiry that was promised in 2001.
A public judicial inquiry is owed to the Finucane family and to the people of Northern Ireland. It is a solemn promise, and remains critical to the peace process in Northern Ireland. Time is important in bringing closure to all, and the net effect of the review of papers has been a year’s further delay.
Once again I urge Prime Minister Cameron to call a public inquiry now as a demonstration of his personal commitment to justice.
Rep. Smith has chaired 13 congressional hearings on the Northern Ireland justice and peace process, many of them focusing on issues of police reform and government collusion in the crimes of paramilitary organizations. Four of Rep. Smith’s bills and resolutions have been passed addressing the British government’s role in the murder of Pat Finucane, most recently H. Con. Res. 20 (110th Congress).
The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the U.S. Helsinki Commission, is an independent agency of the Federal Government charged with monitoring compliance with the Helsinki Accords and advancing comprehensive security through promotion of human rights, democracy, and economic, environmental and military cooperation in 57 countries. The Commission consists of nine members from the U.S. Senate, nine from the House of Representatives, and one member each from the Departments of State, Defense, and Commerce.