The Hooded Men

KRW LAW LLP is instructed by a number of The Hooded Men interned and tortured by the British government in August 1971. These 14 men became the first (there were others to follow) “Guinea Pigs” in the British army’s deployment of ‘deep interrogation’ or what has become known as The Five Techniques. These techniques had been developed in the post-war colonial insurgency conflicts and were used until at least 2003 and the British military occupation of Iraq, their use being exposed in the Baha Mousa Inquiry Report of 2011.


The techniques had been ‘officially’ banned by the British government in 1972 but their use persisted and continues to be used in some form given recent evidence from the USA. The recent Senate Intelligence Committee Executive Report into CIA torture practices reveal the extent to which the Five Techniques used on The Hooded Men became embedded in the cultures of the both the security and military communities internationally, nominally against the ‘War on Terror’. In the case of The Hooded Men they were used as an experiment and as a means of getting a message back to those opposed to British policy in the North of Ireland.


The European Commission condemned the Five Techniques as torture and the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled that they amounted to inhuman and degrading treatment in the landmark judgment of Ireland v UK. Their use was never independently investigated at the time, as noted by the European Commission.


On behalf of The Hooded Men, KRW LAW LLP successfully challenged the Irish government in its initial failure to refer the case of The Hooded Men back to the ECtHR to be re-examined and for the Court to now declare that the treatment of The Hooded Men was torture. The Irish government did not contest this challenge and has duly made an Application to the ECtHR so that The Hooded Men case of Ireland v UK can be re-opened. This is significant in both legal and political terms as it send a clear message to the British and Irish governments that human rights violations in the past have to be accounted for in the present. It also sends a message to the USA – specifically at Langley and the Pentagon – that the techniques they considered only inhuman and degrading now constitute torture.


In addition to this ECtHR Application, we are also issuing proceedings against the British government to establish an independent investigation into the torture of The Hooded Men there having been no investigation to date. This action is being taken against the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and the PSNI: the demand is for a statutory investigation into the use of torture by British security forces, including the RUC, during the period of internment and after and that this investigation must comply with Article 3 of the ECHR in that it must satisfy the jurisprudence of being a human rights compliant investigation. We argue that the PSNI is not able to conduct such an investigation independently and that the British government has an on-going due to discharge its obligations toward The Hooded Men separate to the proceedings before the ECtHR. The fight to expose the wrongs committed against The Hooded Men continues until truth and justice will out.


In the High Court today in Belfast, The Hooded Men were granted leave to have the failure of the Secretary of State and the PSNI to instigate a full investigation into their torture heard before the Court in a full hearing later this year. Hugh Southey QC, Blinne Ni Ghrálaigh of Matrix Chambers and Adam Straw of Doughty Street represent The Hooded Men in this application instructed by Darragh Mackin of KRW LAW LLP.


ENDS: 04 06 2015