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Northern Ireland: Hooded men 'denied justice for half a century' torture case back in court

The Belfast Court of Appeal will this week consider whether an investigation into criminal acts committed during the interrogation of the ‘Hooded Men’ in 1971 should proceed.


The appeal was brought by the Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland and involves the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and the Department of Justice.

In October last year, the High Court in Belfast ruled that the Police Service of Northern Ireland must investigate the unlawful treatment of the men. Mr Justice Maguire said in his judgment that the force’s decision to end its investigation into the case in 2014 was “seriously flawed” and that a “completely fresh decision process should begin”. He added it was “plain that the methods used were unlawful”.

Amnesty is an intervener in the case, the organisation’s first intervention in a legacy court case in Northern Ireland.  Amnesty has backed the men’s campaign for justice for decades. The case is likely to set an important precedent for the investigation of serious human rights violations in this jurisdiction. 

Grainne Teggart, Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland Campaigns Manager, said:

“It is shameful that these torture victims have been denied justice for nearly half a century.

“The torture of these men was authorised at the highest levels of government. In line with the UK’s international human rights obligations, those responsible for sanctioning and carrying out torture, at all levels, must be held accountable and, where possible, prosecuted. 

“It’s wholly unacceptable that, in 47 years, no-one - not those who carried out the abuse nor those who authorised it - has ever been held accountable before the law. These men have been denied justice for too long. An independent, effective and human-rights-compliant investigation into the torture of these men must be carried out without further delay.

 “This case underscores the need for a comprehensive means of dealing with historic human rights violations and abuses in Northern Ireland. The UK government must stop the delay and denial of mechanisms capable of dealing with the past and delivering truth and justice for victims.”

Francis McGuigan, one of the ‘Hooded Men’ said:

“We intend to robustly defend this appeal.  As the High Court rightly said, there should be an investigation to identify and hold to account those Ministers, MOD and RUC Officers who were responsible for authorising and carrying out torture on us.  That investigation must be independent and must get underway without any further delay. 

“Our pursuit of justice is not solely for us but for all victims of torture here and across the world. It is concerning that the PSNI are challenging a decision that states they should investigate our torture when such clear evidence exists.”

Jim McIlmurray, Case coordinator for the Hooded Men said:

“Torture is barbaric, it leaves permanent physical and psychological scars. Those responsible for upholding the law have a legal obligation to investigate illegal acts.  We should not have had to fight through the courts for these rights to be upheld, sadly this is the case.”

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