Responding to a report broadcast this evening on Channel 4 News, Amnesty International has called on the UK government to investigate new allegations of torture in Northern Ireland in the 1970s, including that the then Prime Minister, Edward Heath, was aware of the allegations.
Channel 4 News broadcast details of a number of cases of torture – including electrocution and waterboarding – by the British Army in Northern Ireland in 1972 and published what it says is a secret government memo showing that the Prime Minister knew about the alleged torture. Human rights group, the Pat Finucane Centre, uncovered the archived documents.
Amnesty has previously called on the UK authorities to ensure that the allegations of torture of the so-called ‘Hooded Men’ in 1971 receive an independent and human rights compliant investigation.
To date, this call has gone unheeded.
Amnesty International Northern Ireland Programme Director Patrick Corrigan said:
“The allegations against the UK are extremely grave: that they tortured their own citizens, and that this was known about and covered up at the highest levels of government. This matter could not be more serious and merits a full, independent investigation.
“Over four decades after torture in Northern Ireland was first exposed by Amnesty International and others, the UK authorities have still never conducted a proper investigation into the abuse and no-one, not the people who carried out the abuse, nor the people who authorised it, has ever been held accountable before the law.
“These latest revelations add to what has already been revealed from UK government archives about the apparent authorisation of torture at Cabinet level in the Hooded Men case in 1971.
“The UK, as a signatory of the UN Convention against Torture and the European Convention on Human Rights, must now 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.”
Background: A television programme, The Torture Files, broadcast in June 2014 by RTÉ, revealed previously unseen documents which appear to show that the UK authorities - including senior government ministers – sanctioned the use of the ‘five techniques’ of torture in Northern Ireland in 1971.
There has never been an investigation compliant with Article 3 of the ECHR giving rise to prosecution of any of the state agents involved in sanctioning or carrying out the violations.