Thursday, December 16, 2021

Justice for the "hooded men"?

In 1971 the British government explicitly approved a policy of torture in Northern Ireland. Fourteen people were tortured as a result, rounded up as part of a mass-internment campaign and subjected to the "five techniques". While the ECHR later ruled the "five techniques" were illegal and amounted to a practice of inhuman and degrading treatment, no-one has ever been held legally accountable or criminally responsible for their use. But that might be about to change, with the UK Supreme Court ruling that the Northern Irish police can't just look the other way on torture:

The UK supreme court has ruled that a Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) decision in 2014 to discontinue an investigation into allegations of controversial interrogation techniques against the “hooded men” was unlawful.


Delivering his judgment on Wednesday, Lord Hodge referred to a 2014 RTÉ documentary about the hooded men case which referred to a British government memorandum, known as the “Rees Memo”, which “referred to the use of torture and to its approval by UK ministers”.

Following the broadcast, the PSNI considered whether there was sufficient evidence to warrant a new investigation, but concluded that there was not.

Lord Hodge said: “The court finds that the PSNI’s decision taken on October 17th, 2014 not to investigate further the allegation in the Rees Memo was based on a seriously flawed report, was therefore irrational, and falls to be quashed.”

The PSNI will now have to make an actual decision, and likely pursue an investigation, rather than just do their usual job of covering up British crimes. Unless of course Boris Johnson manages to pass his "amnesty" law to grant impunity to the torturers first. But that of course simply moves any case to international courts, while making Johnson and his government accomplices.