Irish government reopen ‘hooded men’ torture case

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Charlie Flanagan, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade

The Irish government is to ask the European Court of Human Right to reconsider its findings on a group of men who claimed they were tortured by British authorities in Northern Ireland.

While the Commission held that the 14 Catholic men had been tortured, in 1978 the Court found their treatment amounted to ‘inhumane and degrading’ but not torture.  The UK Government did not dispute this finding.

But after new evidence came to light, human rights groups have pushed Dublin to force a review of the so called Hooded Men case as the victims were hooded and flown by helicopter to a British Army base at Ballykelly in Derry.

They say that along with being hooded they were subjected to wall-standing, subjection to noise, sleep deprivation, and deprivation of food and drink.

An RTE documentary on the topic, broadcast in June this year, alleged that the British authorities purposely misled the European Commission on Human Rights and the Court by withholding information in the case. It also alleged that the decision to employ the interrogation techniques had been taken at UK Cabinet level.

“The Government is aware of the suffering of the individual men and of their families, of the significance of this case, and of the weight of these allegations. The archival material which underlay the RTÉ documentary was therefore taken very seriously by the Government and was subject to thorough legal analysis and advice,” said Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Charlie Flanagan.

“On the basis of the new material uncovered, it will be contended that the ill-treatment suffered by the Hooded Men should be recognised as torture.

“The Government’s decision was not taken lightly. As EU partners, UK and Ireland have worked together to promote human rights in many fora and during the original case, the UK did not contest before the European Court of Human Rights that a breach of Article 3 of the European Convention of Human rights took place.

“The British and Irish Governments have both worked hard to build stronger more trusting relations in recent years and I believe that this relationship will now stand to us as we work through the serious matters raised by these cases which have come to light in recent months.”

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