Council of Europe reopens Pat Finucane case

Council of Europe reopens Pat Finucane case

Pat Finucane

The Council of Europe has reopened its consideration of the Pat Finucane case following the UK government’s refusal to order a fresh public inquiry into the Belfast solicitor’s murder in 1998.

The Supreme Court ruled in February 2019 that the state had failed to deliver an Article 2 compliant investigation into the death of Mr Finucane, who was shot and killed by loyalist paramilitaries in collusion with UK security forces.

The government did not respond until December 2020, when it said it would not establish a public inquiry and highlighted an ongoing “review process” within the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and investigations by the Police Ombudsman (OPONI).

However, the PSNI subsequently said there are “no new lines of inquiry” and the Police Ombudsman said the murder was “not central to any of our ongoing investigations”, which human rights campaigners said challenged the government’s explanation.

The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, which supervises the executive of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), examined the Finucane case this week.

A record of the meeting says the committee “decided to reopen their consideration of the individual measures in the case of Finucane in order to supervise the ongoing measures to ensure that they are adequate, sufficient and proceed in a timely manner”.

It has also “invited the authorities to clarify how the ongoing police and OPONI processes will proceed promptly and in line with Convention standards given the issues raised by both of those bodies in recent statements”.

Mr Finucane’s son, lawyer and Sinn Féin MP John Finucane, tweeted: “This is a hugely significant move. The British govt have been criticised internationally for their failure to establish an inquiry & this level of scrutiny is vital to ensure truth can finally emerge.”

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