The Prime Minister wants to amend the Human Rights Act so that it does not apply to any incidents before it came into force in October 2000, so allegations of criminality from historical incidents cannot be brought to bare on veterans. The change is designed to protect military personnel from repeated inquiries and will specify that the Human Rights Act “doesn’t apply to issues, including any death in the Northern Ireland troubles that took place before the Act came into force”. This amendment to the Human Rights law will place the Government on a collision course with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), to which Britain is a signatory.
Under Article 2 nations are under obligation to carry out some form of effective official investigation into deaths where lethal force had been used against individuals by agents of the state.
Several veterans of Northern Ireland are expected to face trial, including Soldier F, an ex-paratrooper who has been charged with two murders and four attempted murders during Bloody Sunday in Derry in 1972.
Mr Johnson vowed during his campaign to intervene and said he would create the new position of veterans minister, with rights to attend cabinet, to raise the issue up the agenda.
According to The Daily Telegraph, the current draft of the manifesto includes a promise to end “ongoing, prosecutions”.
But, it is unclear if ministers could ever intervene in active criminal court proceedings, and last night the Government refused to comment further.
The commitment follows pressure on successive prime ministers to end criminal investigations against troops for alleged crimes committed in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as in Northern Ireland.
The most controversial measures are being planned for the manifesto which will “consider legislation that draws a clear line under the past, bringing to an end all ongoing investigations, inquests and prosecutions from the Northern Ireland Troubles”.
More than 200 ex-soldiers are understood to be under current criminal investigation for unlawful killings during the Troubles, including the Ballymurphy Massacre between August 9 and 11 1971, where eleven unarmed civilians were killed, and the events of Bloody Sunday in January 1972 in which 14 people died.