Statement by Minister Flanagan on the 'Hooded Men' case2/12/14
The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan TD, has announced that Government today (Tuesday) has decided to request the European Court of Human Rights to revise its judgment in the case of the ‘Hooded Men’. He said the decision had been taken following a review of thousands of recently released documents and taking account of the legal advice received.
In 1971, the deep concern of the Irish Government and the Irish people led to Ireland bringing a case against the UK before the European Commission and Court of Human Rights alleging human rights violations arising from internment and a particular focus of the proceedings was the use of the so-called ‘Five Techniques’ of interrogation suffered by 14 detainees. The ‘Five Techniques’ are hooding, wall-standing, subjection to noise, sleep deprivation, and deprivation of food and drink.
While the Commission held that torture had occurred, in 1978 the Court held that the treatment of the men amounted to ‘inhumane and degrading treatment’ but not torture. The UK Government did not dispute this finding.
Government examined the matter following the broadcast of an RTÉ documentary on 4 June this year on the case of the Hooded Men. The documentary alleged that the British authorities at the time 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.
Minister Flanagan stated:
“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. 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.”
02 December 2014