Investigations capable of leading to the identification and punishment of those responsible must be undertaken into allegations of unlawful killings. If the aims of fact finding, criminal investigation and prosecution were carried out or shared between several authorities, the requirements of Article 2 might be satisfied if, while seeking to take into account other legitimate interests such as national security or the protection of material relevant to other investigations, they provided for the necessary safeguards in an accessible and effective manner. However, in all four cases, the available procedures had not struck the right balance. The shortcomings in transparency and effectiveness identified ran counter to the purpose identified by the domestic courts of allaying suspicions and rumours. Proper procedures for ensuring the accountability of agents of the State were indispensable in maintaining public confidence and meeting the legitimate concerns that might arise from the use of lethal force.
Where a general policy or measure had disproportionately prejudicial effects on a particular group, it was not excluded that this might be considered as discriminatory notwithstanding that it is not specifically aimed or directed at that group. However, statistics could not in themselves disclose a practice which could be classified as discriminatory. Even though statistically it appeared that the majority of people shot by the security forces were from the Catholic or nationalist community, there was no evidence before the Court which would entitle it to conclude that any of the killings, save the four which resulted in convictions, involved the unlawful or excessive use of force by members of the security forces.