Toggle navigation menu.
Helsinki Default Banner

Helsinki Commission Probes Northern Ireland Human Rights and Policing Reforms

Washington – The United States Helsinki Commission will examine progress towards policing reforms in Northern Ireland in light of the legislation pending in the British Parliament aimed at implementing the recommendations of the Independent Commission on Policing for Northern Ireland.

Protecting Human Rights and Securing Peace in Northern Ireland
The Vital Role of Police Reform
Friday, September 22, 2000
10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
2172 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC
Open to Members, Staff, Press and the Public

Invited to testify are:
Brendan O’Leary, Professor of Political Science, London School of Economics; co-author of Policing Northern Ireland; and former advisor to the Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1988 – 1995)
Chris Patten, Chairman, former Independent Commission on Policing for Northern Ireland
Brice Dickson, Chairman, Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission
Les Rodgers, Chairman, Police Federation for Northern Ireland
Martin O’Brien, Director, Committee on the Administration of Justice, Belfast
Elisa Massimino, Director, Washington Office, Lawyers Committee for Human Rights
British and Irish Government representatives have also been invited. Written submissions from the signatories to the Good Friday Agreement will be welcomed and additional witnesses may be added.

Background: In 1998, the Good Friday Agreement – which was overwhelmingly approved by public referendums in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland – called for “a new beginning to policing in Northern Ireland.” The Agreement called for the creation of an independent commission to make recommendations for future policing arrangements in Northern Ireland. Accordingly, the Independent Commission on Policing for Northern Ireland (also known as the “Patten Commission” after its chair, Chris Patten) was created in 1998. In September 1999, the Patten Commission issued a report and 175 recommendations for creating a “new beginning to policing in Northern Ireland.” On his visit to the United States and in a meeting with the Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights, Mr. Patten warned against partial implementation of the Commission’s 175 recommendations. “I hope that nobody starts cherry-picking in this document, because I think it hangs together as a whole,” Mr. Patten said.

In June 2000, the British Government introduced legislation in Westminster which the Government asserts will fully implement the recommendations of the Patten Commission. The bill has been harshly criticized by human rights advocates, academics, and politicians from both nationalist and unionist parties in Northern Ireland. Approximately ninety-two percent of officers in Northern Ireland’s Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) are Protestant. The RUC is seen by Northern Ireland’s Catholic/nationalist community as a tool of the British Government and of the Protestant/unionist community. Unionists view the RUC officers as dedicated public servants who have suffered grievously while protecting the public in Northern Ireland from terrorists. Human rights monitoring organizations allege that the RUC has long been implicated in human rights abuses for which few, if any, police officers have been held accountable. This hearing will examine the status of policing reforms in Northern Ireland as envisioned by the Good Friday Agreement.

Media contact

Category
Country
Issue
Date
Filter Topics Open Close
Hearings

Vladimir Kara-Murza: Putin’s Personal Prisoner

Sep 20, 2023

Stream here: HEARING: Vladimir Kara-Murza: Putin’s Personal Prisoner – YouTube Vladimir Kara-Murza, a father, husband, and a freedom fighter, has been in detention for over five hundred days and is currently being transferred to a prison in Siberia. As he is being moved, his family has lost all contact with him and are faced with worry […]

screen-reader-text
Hearings

Supporting A Democratic and Secure Moldova

Jul 12, 2023

In recent years, Moldova has made notable steps to improve its democratic institutions and combat corruption. President Maia Sandu and her Party of Action and Solidarity (PAS) have spearheaded wide-ranging reforms and backed a number of high-profile anti-corruption cases. Moldova has also made strides toward greater integration with the European Union (EU). In 2022, the […]

screen-reader-text
Press Releases

Helsinki Commission Leadership Statement on Georgian...

Mar 06, 2023

WASHINGTON—In response to news that the Georgian parliament is considering Russian-style foreign agent legislation, which would have a chilling effect on Georgia’s vibrant civil society, Helsinki Commission Chairman Representative Joe Wilson (SC-2), Co-Chairman Senator Ben Cardin (MD), Ranking Member Representative Steve Cohen (TN-09), and Ranking Member Senator Roger Wicker (MS) issued the following joint statement: “Since regaining independence, the Georgian people have clearly and […]

screen-reader-text
Press Releases

Helsinki Commission Chair and Co-Chair: Statement on...

Feb 20, 2023

WASHINGTON—Following reports of the sharp deterioration of Azerbaijani dissident Bakhtiyar Hajiyev, Helsinki Commission Chairman Rep. Joe Wilson (SC-2) and Co-Chairman Sen. Ben Cardin (MD) issued the following joint statement: “We are absolutely appalled at the continued unwarranted detention and mistreatment of Azerbaijani civil activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev, who has been imprisoned on trumped up charges and […]

screen-reader-text
Press Releases

Helsinki Commission Hearing to Examine Ways to Count...

Mar 30, 2022

WASHINGTON—The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission, today announced the following hearing: COUNTERING OLIGARCHS, ENABLERS, AND LAWFARE Wednesday, April 6, 2022 2:30 p.m. Dirksen Senate Office Building Room 562 Watch live: www.youtube.com/HelsinkiCommission As influential proxies of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, Russian oligarchs work to weaken Western democracies from […]

screen-reader-text
Generic BG 368x331
Briefings

Conflict of Interest?

Feb 16, 2022

Turkey is at a crossroads. Even as the Turkish Government insists that it remains committed to its NATO partners and to future EU integration, its actions—both foreign and domestic—call those promises into question. Turkey has been a steadfast supporter of Ukraine and Turkish officials have announced plans to normalize relations with Armenia and moved to […]

screen-reader-text
Press Releases

Helsinki Commission Briefing to Examine Intersection...

Feb 10, 2022

WASHINGTON—The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission, today announced the following online briefing: CONFLICT OF INTEREST? Foreign Policy and Human Rights in Turkey Wednesday, February 16, 2022 11:00 a.m. Register: https://bit.ly/3Je5Ck4 Turkey is at a crossroads. Even as the Turkish Government insists that it remains committed to its NATO […]

screen-reader-text
Press Releases

Helsinki Commission Marks One-Year Anniversary of Na...

Jan 14, 2022

WASHINGTON—Ahead of the one-year anniversary of Alexei Navalny’s arrest on January 17, Helsinki Commission Chairman Sen. Ben Cardin (MD), Co-Chairman Rep. Steve Cohen (TN-09), Ranking Member Sen. Roger Wicker (MS), and Ranking Member Rep. Joe Wilson (SC-02) issued the following statements: “In the past year, while Alexei Navalny has remained unjustly imprisoned, the Kremlin has […]

screen-reader-text
Logo 368x331
Press Releases

Helsinki Commission Cautions Russia Against Dissolvi...

Dec 21, 2021

WASHINGTON—As the latest court proceedings conclude for Russian human rights group Memorial International, U.S. Helsinki Commission Chairman Sen. Ben Cardin (MD), Co-Chairman Rep. Steve Cohen (TN-09), Ranking Member Sen. Roger Wicker (MS), and Ranking Member Rep. Joe Wilson (SC-02) issued the following joint statement: “The Kremlin continues to twist Russia’s so-called justice system to punish civil […]

screen-reader-text
Press Releases

Chairman Cardin Calls for Release of Osman Kavala, W...

Dec 03, 2021

WASHINGTON—Following the recent ruling of a Turkish court that will keep philanthropist Osman Kavala jailed until his trial begins in January 2022 and the subsequent decision by the Council of Europe to begin infringement proceedings against Turkey, Helsinki Commission Chairman Sen. Ben Cardin (MD) issued the following statement: “Justice has been denied, once again, for […]

screen-reader-text
Press Releases

Helsinki Commission Alarmed by Attempted Liquidation...

Nov 17, 2021

WASHINGTON—Following last week’s request by Russian prosecutors to liquidate the human rights group Memorial International and the Memorial Human Rights Center, Helsinki Commission Chairman Sen. Ben Cardin (MD), Co-Chairman Rep. Steve Cohen (TN-09), Ranking Member Sen. Roger Wicker (MS), and Ranking Member Rep. Joe Wilson (SC-02) issued the following joint statement: “We continue to see […]

screen-reader-text
Hearings

Upholding OSCE Commitments in Hungary and Poland

Nov 03, 2021

Political leaders in Hungary and Poland—U.S. allies and members of the European Union—have for the past decade pursued policies that undermine democracy and the rule of law. In Hungary, the Fidesz government has weakened the country’s democratic institutions, especially the free media and independent judiciary. Instead of strengthening the transatlantic bond, Viktor Orbán has sought […]

screen-reader-text