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Lost on the Way Home? The Right to Life in Northern Ireland

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This article starts from the premise that, through the Belfast Agreement, the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA) was invested with a ‘transitional justice’ function in Northern Ireland, unlike in the rest of the United Kingdom. The article evaluates how far the HRA has met this challenge by examining a case study of the right to life. The European Court's development of a procedural aspect to the right to life in the form of a right to an effective investigation, has implicated both institutional reform for the future, and also a need to revisit past state killings with their ‘transitional justice’ implications. There have been some positive developments, but, despite this, domestic institutions and courts have largely failed to deliver on Article 2's procedural aspect. The article concludes by questioning whether the very design of the HRA has limited the possibilities for a ‘transformational constitutionalism’ capable of incorporating Article 2's procedural right.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Transitional Justice Institute, University of Ulster, Magee Campus, Londonderry/Derry BT48 7JL, Northern Ireland

Publication date: March 1, 2005

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