A fundamental tenet of the Helsinki Process is that ‘no one will be above the law,’ a principle that serves as the bedrock of democratic society. The leaders of all OSCE participating States, including the United Kingdom, affirmed this in the 1990 Charter of Paris, stressing the importance of accountability along with “the obligation of public authorities to comply with the law and justice administered impartially.” These concerns go to the very heart of cases under consideration at today’s hearing. While some predate the 1975 Helsinki Final Act, this does not exonerate those in authority today from pursuing the truth wherever it may lead. The rule of law requires nothing less.
I appreciate the willingness of family members to share their stories with us, painful yet necessary if truth and justice are to prevail. Your presence helps keep these murder cases in the spotlight to the chagrin of those who would have them swept under the carpet. Reckoning with past human rights violations must be an integral part of any process aimed at promoting genuine and lasting peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland.