The Good Friday Agreement and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) are two critical pieces of legislation that have had a significant impact on Northern Ireland`s political landscape. The Good Friday Agreement, also known as the Belfast Agreement, was signed on April 10, 1998, by the British and Irish governments and eight political parties in Northern Ireland. The aim of the agreement was to establish a peaceful and democratic society in Northern Ireland.
The ECHR is a legally binding treaty that was signed in 1950 by the Council of Europe`s member states. The treaty aims to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms in Europe. The UK signed the treaty in 1951 and incorporated it into domestic law through the Human Rights Act 1998. The ECHR is crucial for people in Northern Ireland who want to assert their rights and hold the government accountable for any violations.
Since the Good Friday Agreement, both the UK and Irish governments have committed to uphold the ECHR. This commitment is enshrined in the Good Friday Agreement, which states that “the British and Irish governments will ensure that the human rights of all are fully protected and equitably safeguarded.” The ECHR`s provisions have been relied upon in a range of cases, including in regards to the right to life, the prohibition of torture, and inquests into safety and health issues.
For example, the ECHR played a crucial role in the case of Jean Charles de Menezes, a Brazilian man who was shot and killed by police officers in London in 2005. The ECHR found that the UK had violated Article 2 of the convention (the right to life) and that there had been a failure to carry out an effective investigation into his death. The ruling led to changes in police procedures and the creation of the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
The ECHR has also been used in cases related to Northern Ireland`s Troubles, including the ongoing controversy surrounding the deaths of 10 civilians in Ballymurphy in 1971. The ECHR is likely to play a significant role in any future investigations or inquests related to events during the Troubles.
In conclusion, both the Good Friday Agreement and the ECHR have played a crucial role in shaping the political and legal landscape in Northern Ireland. The ECHR provides a framework for protecting human rights and holding governments accountable, while the Good Friday Agreement commits the UK and Irish governments to upholding these rights. Together, these two pieces of legislation provide a strong foundation for building a peaceful and democratic society in Northern Ireland.