Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein call on 'hooded men' case

The Irish Government is dutybound to reopen a landmark case against Britain over the alleged use of torture in Northern Ireland during the Troubles, it has been claimed.

Sinn Fein said the legal action for the so-called "Hooded Men" should be used as a deterrent for other nations.

Gerry Kelly MLA said: "The Irish Government has an onus of responsibility to have this case opened, not only for justice for the men and their families but also to put a marker down that they do not condone torture."

Fourteen Catholic men claim they were beaten, tortured and threatened with death during an indefinite detention in 1971.

They allege being subjected to a number of torture techniques including food and water deprivation; exposure to white noise and being held in stress positions.

The men were also hooded and flown by helicopter to a secret location, later revealed as a British Army camp at Ballykelly, outside Londonderry.

None were ever convicted.

The Government has until December 4 to decide whether or not to relaunch proceedings at the European Court after new evidence disclosed that the British Government had authorised the "deep interrogation" tactics at the highest levels.

Mr Kelly added: "If the Irish Government do not request that the case be open before this Thursday, then the case will be closed forever.

"To allow the case to be consigned to history will only encourage nations practising torture in countries around the globe to continue and send out a signal that the Irish Government will not protect its citizens."

Evidence, uncovered from national archives in London by the human rights group Pat Finucane Centre, throws doubt over a finding by the European Court of Human Rights, according to campaigners.

It includes a letter in 1977 from then home secretary Merlyn Rees to then prime minister James Callaghan in which he states his view that the decision to use "methods of torture in Northern Ireland in 1971/72 was taken by ministers - in particular Lord Carrington, then secretary of state for defence".

Mr Rees added that "a political decision was taken".

The evidence was made public in a television documentary aired by Irish State broadcaster RTE in June.

Amnesty International said the documents show the UK Government withheld crucial evidence from the European Court during the original hearing and that senior government ministers sanctioned the use of torture, which they had denied.

The evidence could have led to a different finding by the European Court, it said.

In the original case against Britain, the European Court of Human Rights found the "Hooded Men" were subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment but ruled it was not torture.

Last week the Irish Government said it was "very seriously" considering the demands to reopen the case.

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