The ‘hooded men’, one of whom was the late Gerry McKerr from Lurgan, have been granted permission for a judicial review to challenge the refusal to hold an independent investigation into their allegations of torture during internment in the 1970s.
The application was heard at the High Court in Belfast today.
Seeking that leave ran parallel to their efforts to have their case reviewed by the European Court of Human Rights, following a request by the Irish government last year.
The 14 ‘hooded men’ were arrested in August 1971, hooded and flown by helicopter to a secret location – thought to be a British Army base at Ballykelly, Co Derry – where they were held without trial.
They claim they were subjected to a number of torture methods.
Ahead of Thursday’s hearing, Amnesty International said there was a “long overdue responsibility” to provide an independent investigation and to hold to account those responsible for the men’s treatment.
Patrick Corrigan from Amnesty NI said: “It is utterly unacceptable that, in 43 years, the UK authorities have never conducted a proper investigation into the abuse and that no-one has ever been held accountable before the law.
“The UK, as a signatory of the UN Convention against Torture and the European Convention on Human Rights, must establish an independent, effective investigation into the alleged actions of its agents and its decision-makers in these cases and bring to justice those responsible for torture, at all levels.”
The Ireland v UK European Court of Human Rights judgment on ‘deep interrogation’ techniques used on the 14 men was made in 1978.
It ruled that the ‘five techniques’ of interrogation inflicted on them constituted inhuman and degrading treatment in breach of Article 3 of the ECHR, but not torture.
The five techniques were hooding, stress positions, white noise, sleep deprivation and deprivation of food and water, and were combined with physical assaults and death threats to the men.
International lawyer Amal Clooney is part of the legal team representing the ‘hooded men’.
The judicial review will now be held over four days in November.
Ahead of this morning’s decision, Jim McIlmurray from Lurgan who is representing the men revealed ‘a surprising development’ that both the Chief Constable and the Secretary of State notified the legal teams that they will no longer be contesting the case being brought before the High Court, The Justice Minister issued a similar statement.
“We will still have to pursue the right for a full independent and effective investigation,” said Mr McIlmurray adding that ‘this development is favourable’.