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A court in Northern Ireland delivered a major blow to the British government’s efforts to address the legacy of the territory’s “Troubles” period by ruling against a controversial law that sought to grant immunity for crimes committed during the decades-long conflict, Euronews reported this week.

The case was centered over the Westminster government’s Legacy and Reconciliation Bill that was passed in September. The new measures would halt prosecutions for killings by militant groups and British soldiers during the conflict, in which from the 1960s into the 1990s around 3,500 people were killed.

But the bill has faced fierce opposition since it was unveiled and more than 20 legal challenges from various groups, including victims’ families, human rights organizations, and political parties in Northern Ireland, according to Reuters.

In its verdict, the Belfast High Court ruled that the law’s provision for conditional immunity from prosecution breaches the European Convention on Human Rights.

The ruling also underscored broader concerns about the British government’s approach to addressing the legacy of the Troubles and its implications for reconciliation efforts.

Critics noted that the law risked undermining the principles of justice and accountability, as well as the integrity of peace agreements, such as the Good Friday Agreement that ended the fighting.

Despite the court’s decision, the British government reaffirmed its commitment to implementing the law, citing its perceived role in bringing closure to the conflict.

However, opposition leaders called for a reevaluation of this approach, urging the government to prioritize human rights and reconciliation in its policies.

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