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Dealing with the past

Northen Ireland © Hulton Archive/Getty Images
© Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The Northern Ireland conflict claimed the lives of more than 3,600 people and injured a further 40,000. In most cases no one has ever been held responsible.
Over the last decade a patchwork of measures, including isolated investigations, have failed to establish the full truth about the violations and abuses of the past and left many victims waiting for justice.

We are campaigning for human rights compliant mechanisms capable of delivering the truth, justice and accountability victims’ have rights to. 
We believe that such mechanisms would be an important step towards ending impunity for human rights violations and abuses in Northern Ireland and will contribute towards building a lasting peace.

The Hooded Men

As part of this work, Amnesty International continues to support the 14 men chosen for 'special treatment' by the UK Government in 1971. The men were forced to wear hoods and thrown to the ground from low-flying helicopters while hooded. These 14 men became commonly known as the 'Hooded Men'. None of the 14 men were ever convicted of any criminal offence.

In late 2017, the High Court ruled that the failure by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) to investigate the allegations of torture was unlawful and should be quashed. 

The PSNI sought to appeal this decision to the Court of Appeal, but in September 2019 the Court ruled that the decision should stand. An appeal by the PSNI to the UK Supreme Court was rejected in November 2019.

However, the PSNI will once again challenge this judgement and the case will be heard on Monday 14th June at the UK Supreme Court. Amnesty International are intervenors in the case and we'll be watching closely. 

Find out more about this campaign here

Majella O'Hare

Amnesty International UK is also supporting the brother of a 12-year-old girl, Majella O'Hare, who was shot in the back by a soldier in 1976. The loss had a devastating impact on her family and the grossly inadequate investigation at the time only added to the trauma. Despite a letter of apology from the Ministry of Defence in 2011, no independent investigation has ever taken place, and no one has been held accountable for Majella's killing.

Amnesty International UK is supporting Michael O'Hare in calling for an independent investigation ahead of the 44th anniversary of her death. In July 2020 a letter was sent to the Legacy Investigation Branch of the PSNI requesting the Chief Constable ensure a prompt and independent investigation into her death. 

Find out more about the campaign for Majella O'Hare here.

Read the reports

Response to NIO Consultation ‘Addressing the Legacy of Northern Ireland’s Past 2018

Submission to the UN Human Rights Committee 2015

Northern Ireland: Time to Deal with the Past 2013

Campaign news

Time to deal with the past report
Amnesty International UK response to NIO consultation Addressing the legacy of Northern Ireland's past Oct 2018.pdf