06:26, March 20 249 0 theguardian.com

2018-03-20 06:26:05
British army did not use torture in Northern Ireland, court rules

The European court of human rights has rejected a request from the Irish government that it brand the maltreatment of 14 detainees as torture by the British state at the start of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

The court ruled its original 1978 judgment that Britain was guilty of inhuman and degrading treatment in the case – but not torture – still stands.

In a statement on Tuesday, the court in Strasbourg said it found that “the government of Ireland had not demonstrated the existence of facts that were unknown to the court at the time of which would have a decisive influence on the original judgment”.

There was no justification to revise the judgment., it concluded. The request was rejected on a 6-1 vote by the judges.

The Irish government, backed by human rights organisations including Amnesty International, asked the ECHR back in 2014 to revise its judgment in the case of the “hooded men”, who were detained without trial during the imposition of internment without trial in 1971.

The men were subjected to white noise and put in stress positions after their arrest by British troops in August that year. They were detained during the roundup of thousands of mainly nationalist men in response to the deteriorating security situation.

Seven years later, the ECHR ruled the men had been subjected to inhumane and degrading treatment but fell short of concluding they had been tortured. The ruling came after a complaint to Strasbourg from the Fianna Fáil government of the time.

The five techniques were hooding, stress positions, white noise, sleep deprivation and deprivation of food and water. They were combined with physical assaults and death threats.

Some of the detained men were taken up in army helicopters, dangled out and told they were high up in the air before being thrown just a few feet to the ground.

In 2013 an RTÉ TV documentary, The Torture Files, showed documents uncovered from the UK National Archives revealed that the government knew its core argument – that the effects of techniques used on the hooded men were not severe or long-lasting – was untrue.

The British government fought a vigorous legal action in 1978 to absolve it of the “special stigma” of its armed forces being found guilty of committing acts of torture.