'A bad day for justice' say Hooded Men after torture case is rejected

Some of the Hooded Men with solicitor Darragh Mackin and case coordinator Jim McIlmurray
Some of the Hooded Men with solicitor Darragh Mackin and case coordinator Jim McIlmurray

The ruling today by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) that 14 men interned without trial were not tortured by the British government has been described as 'a bad day for justice'.

The Irish Government had appealed against a ruling that found the UK had not tortured the men who had been interned at a military camp at Ballykelly in 1971.

The s Hooded Men claim they were subjected to a number of torture methods including five techniques - hooding, stress positions, white noise, sleep deprivation and deprivation of food and water - along with beatings and death threats.

Earlier this year, the ECHR dismissed Ireland's request to find the men suffered torture.

The Court said there was no justification for revising an original judgement in 1978 which had ruled that while the men suffered inhumane and degrading treatment, they were not tortured.

Fresh evidence appeared after a documentary by RTE and the Irish government referred the case back to Europe.

However the court said the new material had not demonstrated the existence of facts that were not known to the court at the time or which could have had a decisive influence on the original judgement.

The ECHR dismissed the appeal by six votes to one.

In a statement issued by the Hooded Men, said: "This judgement is disappointing, we had hoped the Grand Chamber of the European Union would have corrected this injustice in that forum, for the sake of the integrity of the Court and survivors of torture all over the world.

"We are supposed to be living in an era where human rights litigation is victim-centred it is disappointing that the decision reached by the Grand Chamber was taken without first affording the men an opportunity to address the Court in their capacity as directly affected persons.

"It is shameful that the request by the Hooded Men to intervene in the case was completely ignored by the Court.

"We believe the Court has missed a vital opportunity to put right a historic wrong. Instead, it relied largely on procedural arguments to avoid substantively revisiting its ruling.

"The prohibition on torture is absolute under international law, In October of last year we were told in a UK Court that the use of the five techniques would constitute torture when judged by today's legal standards.

"Today’s ruling is not only a bad day for justice, the fact that a number of governments and regimes worldwide have sought refuge in the judgment in the Ireland v UK case to justify or defend the use of such techniques it is also a bad day for humanity."