NGOs demand justice for Northern Ireland torture victims

Amnesty International and British Irish RIGHTS WATCH today urged UK authorities not to forget victims of torture in Northern Ireland, following the release of a new Guardian film by Ian Cobain.

The organisations repeated calls for the investigation of allegations of torture and other ill-treatment and emphasised that such investigations must be included in any mechanism established to deal with outstanding abuses in Northern Ireland’s past.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

'Victims, including victims of torture, have frequently been left out of the debate about how to deal with the legacy of Northern Ireland’s past.  This film shows the emotional scars that many victims still bear, and underlines their right to remedy and reparation.

'There has not been full accountability for the alleged torture and ill-treatment that happened during internment and police custody during the conflict.

'Anyone responsible for torturing people must be held accountable. This should include those higher up the chain of command who authorised torture or ill-treatment of detainees. This must involve the possibility of criminal prosecutions, where appropriate.

'Without this, and without the truth, neither justice nor reconciliation will be achieved and the door will be left open for these abuses to be repeated. Impunity will only breed further injustice.

'We urge the UK and northern Ireland governments to address the recommendations of the Eames-Bradley report as soon as possible in order to move the process forward in dealing with the unresolved human rights abuses in Northern Ireland’s past, on all sides of the conflict.

'Sadly, lessons from Northern Ireland do not appear to have been learnt, with UK security personnel accused of complicity in the torture and ill-treatment of detainees held overseas post-2001. The forthcoming inquiry into these allegations must be empowered to expose and hold to account anyone found responsible, and ensure that the UK’s reputation is not further damaged in the future by association with this foul practice.'

British Irish Rights Watch Director Jane Winter said: 

'We have long been aware of serious human rights violations against suspects and prisoners by members of the RUC and the army in Northern Ireland.  It is important that these shocking incidents are exposed and that where possible justice is now seen to be done.  The impunity around interrogation techniques amounting to torture has continued as we have seen in the case of Iraqi detainee Baha Mousa and others and must now be institutionally expunged.'

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