Northern Ireland: Court decision to overturn PSNI refusal to investigate torture of 'Hooded Men' welcomed

Amnesty International has welcomed a decision by the High Court in Belfast today to overturn a decision by the Police Service of Northern Ireland not to take further steps to identify and prosecute those responsible for the torture of the ‘Hooded Men’.

The group of 14 men were interned and tortured by British Army and Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) in Northern Ireland in 1971. At the time, Amnesty documented the torture of the men, which included hooding, stress positions, white noise, sleep deprivation, deprivation of food and water, as well as physical assaults and death threats.

Despite new evidence in the case in 2014, the PSNI decided that this was insufficient to warrant an investigation. Surviving members of the group challenged the decision through judicial review.

Today’s High Court judgement said that the PSNI's decision to end the enquiry was “seriously flawed” and added that a “completely fresh decision process should begin”.

Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International Northern Ireland Programme Director, said:

“Today’s High Court decision is a victory for common sense and for justice. The allegations against the UK are extremely grave – that they tortured their own citizens, knowing full well the long-term effects of the abuse that this was authorised at the highest levels of government, and that they then deliberately misled the European Court of Human Rights.

“It is utterly unacceptable that, in 46 years, the UK authorities have never once conducted a proper investigation into the abuse and that no-one - not the people who carried out the abuse, nor the people who authorised it - has ever been held accountable before the law. The PSNI must now do their job, properly this time.

“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.”

Amnesty has repeatedly called on the UK authorities to investigate allegations of the torture in internment in the 1970s of the 'Hooded Men'.

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