Memorandum submitted by the Northern Ireland
Human Rights Commission
The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission
has decided to carry out an investigation into the human rights
of individuals and communities affected by parades. The power
to conduct investigations is conferred on the Human Rights Commission
by the Northern Ireland Act 1998, section 69(8).
The focus of this investigation is on the rights
of all those affected by the parades issue in Northern Ireland.
The Commission recognises that there are diverse and sometimes
competing human rights involved in the marching issuethe
right to freedom of expression being balanced against the rights
to dignity, privacy, safety and to liberty of movement.
The first stage of this investigation will identify
international human rights pertaining to individuals and communities
affected by the parades issue. This will include an examination
of international human rights standards on policing.
The Drumcree/Garvaghy Road area has been the
site of considerable community tension over successive years around
the marching issue. The Commission will focus on the experience
of people living in the Garvaghy Road and Portadown areas and
of those seeking to parade as a case study to monitor how the
operation of human rights standards works out in practice.
The remit of this investigation is to:
carry out an investigation into international
human rights which pertain to individuals and communities affected
by the parades issue;
investigate the practice of those
rights through a case study;
identify the responsibilities of
the State towards its citizens in relation to those rights;
carry out research into the impact
of the conflict over marching on the human rights and daily lives
of people residing in affected areas through a case study on the
experience of individuals and communities, both Nationalist, Unionist
and other, in the Garvaghy Road and Portadown areas;
identify main concerns of people
in those areas in relation to dignity, safety, freedom from fear
and liberty of movement, freedom of expression;
assess the extent to which the state's
obligations to protect rights in those areas are being met;
examine policing policy and practice
in the area in the light of international human rights standards
on policing; and
make any appropriate recommendations
for the better promotion and protection of human rights in Northern
Ireland as appear to the Commission to be necessary or expedient
in light of its findings.
The investigation will shortly be announced
in the press and is scheduled to commence in May and report in
The conduct of the investigation will be supervised
by two Commissioners, Ms Angela Hegarty and the Reverend Harold
Through its investigations, the Commission aims
to make recommendations to Government aimed at ensuring the better
protection of human rights in Northern Ireland.
It is intended that each investigation will
make a significant contribution to:
a better understanding of human rights
an understanding of the application
of these rights and benchmarking of best practice; and
creation of a human rights discourse
and good relations in Northern Ireland.
The Human Rights Commission investigation will
make an important contribution to the consultation process around
the recommendations of the Criminal Justice Review in respect
to juvenile justice.
Dr Linda Moore, Investigations Worker with the
Commission, will be in contact in the near future to provide you
with further details of the conduct of the investigation.
The Commission looks forward to receiving your
co-operation and support in carrying out this investigation.
17 May 2000