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Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2003 - United Kingdom

Publisher International Federation for Human Rights
Publication Date 14 April 2004
Cite as International Federation for Human Rights, Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2003 - United Kingdom, 14 April 2004, available at: [accessed 25 November 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Inquiry into the murder of Mr. Patrick Finucane71

Mr. Patrick Finucane, a lawyer well-known for his work in favour of human rights, was murdered in Belfast in 1989 by members of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), a loyalist paramilitary group.

On 17th April 2003, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens issued a third inquiry report denouncing collusion between the British security forces and protestant militia, in the murders committed in Ireland in the late 1980's and the 1990's. According to Mr. Stevens' conclusions, Mr. Finucane's murder "could have been prevented", and the investigation lead by the authorities "should have resulted in the early arrest and sentencing of his killers". Two of Mr. Finucane's alleged murderers were arrested after that report, in May and October 2003, and are currently awaiting trial.

On 1st July 2003, the European Court of Human Rights issued its verdict on a complaint filed against the British government in 1994 by Mr. Finucane's widow, Mrs. Geraldine Finucane, under article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees the State protection of the right to life. The Court acknowledged the obstruction committed by the police and security forces during the investigation, and ruled that the complaint of breach of article 2 was well-founded. However, it did not consider it necessary to order a new enquiry into Mr. Finucane's murder.

Another report, written by Canadian judge Peter Cory at the request of the British and Irish governments, was submitted to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Mr. Paul Murphy, in October 2003. Mr. Cory recommended public inquiries, but the government refused to publish his report, despite repeated requests by Mrs. Finucane's lawyer. On 21st January 2004, the High Court of Belfast granted the Finucane family leave to apply for a judicial review of Mr. Murphy's decision not to publish the Cory report.

[Refworld note: This report as posted on the FIDH website ( was in pdf format with country chapters run together by region. Footnote numbers have been retained here, so do not necessarily begin at 1.]

71. See Annual Report 2002.

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