Britain's highest court hears Malaysian human rights case which may effect Ireland
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Britain's highest court hears Malaysian human rights case which may effect Ireland

A GROUP from Malaysia are in Britain today seeking justice for their massacred family members in a case which could have a knock-on effect on Ireland.

Relatives of those killed by the British army during the Batang Kali massacre more than 65 years ago were in London's Supreme Court today to press for a public inquiry into their relatives' deaths.

If successful, the ramifications could see Britain being forced to examine a range of historical deaths at the hands of its troops – including those who died during the Troubles in the North of Ireland.

The surviving relatives of those killed during the Batang Kali massacre – who are now well into their 70s – have been fighting for a public inquiry into the deaths for years.

On December 12, 1948 British troops allegedly surrounded a rubber plantation in the Malaysian town, separating the men from the women and children. In total the group say that 24 men were killed by automatic gunfire, witnessed by their wives and children.

At the time the British Government claimed the men were suspected insurgents and were killed as they tried to escape, but defence lawyers for the family members argue that they may have been deliberately executed.

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Under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which is incorporated into British law by the Human Rights Act, the British Government is prohibited from intentional killing and a proper investigation is required into any deaths caused by the state.

This also pertains to hundreds of deaths which occurred during the Troubles, mainly in the North of Ireland.

The Batang Kali case should shine more light on whether the Human Rights Act 1998 applies to events which happened before it came into force, a technicality which will be the major issue of concern in Ireland.

If it does not apply the deaths of the Batang Kali massacre - as well as those of the Troubles - will not be subject to a public inquiry.