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24 April 2018

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‘Hooded Men’ urge Tánaiste to appeal court torture ruling

“The British Government should wear the stigma of torturer because that is precisely what they are.”

The Hooded men have today met the Tánaiste Simon Coveney to urge him to appeal the decision by the European Court of Human Rights that said new evidence provided by Ireland does not justify a change in the 1978 judgement which ruled the men had not been tortured, but instead were subject to degrading and inhuman treatment.

The fourteen men involved were detained in 1971 under the British policy of internment and tortured for nine days at a private facility in Ballykelly, East Derry, undergoing brutal in-depth interrogation techniques. This included being subject to being placed in stress positions, exposed to high volumes of white noise, sleep deprivation, deprivation of food and water and repeated beatings and death threats. One of the Hooded Men told An Phoblacht today that “the British Government should wear the stigma of torturer because that is precisely what they are”.

Last month, the European Court of Human Rights rejected a request by the Irish Government to find that the ‘hooded men’ had suffered severe torture at the hands of the RUC and the British Army.

The Trial

During the original three-year legal battle from 1975-1978, only two of the fourteen survivors had their testimonies heard as witnesses, while the court has not taken on board new evidence received by the prosecution in 2014. This includes twelve testimonies from the hooded men that still go unheard by the ECHR, as well as 56 lever arch files, including memos from the British cabinet office of former Prime Minister Edward Heath, that show the court was deliberately lied to by the defence in an effort to cover up the torture of fourteen innocent men. Among the evidence is a note from the former Home Secretary Merlyn Rees confirming they had used measures of torture in the North.

The then Attorney General was asked to bring the case back to the courts requesting it be revisited but declined, citing a “lack of any new circumstances on which she could base her revisiting of the case”.

Redress

Speaking to An Phoblacht, torture survivor Liam Shannon said that none of the hooded men have ever received financial reparation or redress for their time as torture victims at the hands of the British Army and RUC special branch. Shannon cited the trauma that has followed the men for the past 47 years in their quest for justice, and the effect it had on their families. “I was 22 when I was arrested. My family were not told where I was for nine days. For all intents and purposes, I was dead” he said.

A lasting legacy

International support for the hooded men’s case appeal has grown significantly in recent years, and has seen a new lease of life grow in the case. The hooded men intend to continue their campaign for justice and an end to torture for as long as it will take. “We’re not giving up. I’m 70 years old. I don’t have much longer to go…if I’m not here my children will take the case, and their children will take the case and we will keep fighting the case until we get justice” the ex-internee told An Phoblacht.

Hooded Men at Leinster House

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