Adalah Representatives Visit Northern Ireland and London for Strategic Legal Consultation on Commissions of Inquiry


Adalah representatives Hassan Jabareen, Rina Rosenberg and Riad Anis visited N. Ireland and London this past week in order to meet with and learn from leading lawyers who have experience working before Commissions of Inquiry and before the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on cases involving the excessive use of lethal force by police and other state agents against unarmed demonstrators. 

In their meetings, Adalah’s representatives focused on two commissions in Northern Ireland and England—the Bloody Sunday and Stephen Lawrence Inquiries—due to the extensive parallels between these events and those of the recent Intifada, including the killing of citizen demonstrators, the lack of police investigation, and institutional racism within the police forces.  As the Commission of Inquiry Law (1968) in Israel is largely similar to the UK Tribunal of Inquiry (Evidence) Act 1921 and subsequent amendments, under which both of these inquiries are being conducted, the situation faced by these lawyers is particularly relevant to that which Adalah is faced.

Adalah representatives attended 11 meetings with lawyers representing family members in the Bloody Sunday Inquiry, the Steven Lawrence Inquiry and other major ECHR right to life cases; members of the British Bar Council and family members of the 13 people killed during Bloody Sunday.  They also attended the Bloody Sunday hearings and visited the Bloody Sunday Center in Derry, N. Ireland.

A major outcome of the visit was the development of a comparison of commissions of inquiry law and practice in Britain and in Israel. In Britain, Commission of Inquiry practice has developed to permit legal representation for family members of the deceased, full disclosure of all relevant materials collected by the Commission to the legal representatives, and the right of cross-examination of all witnesses by interested parties.  In addition, the British government funds the legal representation through annual public appropriations.  The Or Commission, which is investigating the October clashes in which thirteen Palestinian citizens of Israel were killed and hundreds more were wounded by Israeli police, grants none of these fundamental rights.

From its consultation with British and Irish lawyers and NGOs, such as the Committee for the Administration of Justice (Belfast), Amnesty International (London), British Irish Rights Watch (London) and others, Adalah was able to develop a better formed plan of action vis-à-vis the Or Commission including domestic legal work, local advocacy and international campaigns.