The Irish Government has today confirmed that it will refer the decision in Ireland versus UK to the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights. The case concerns the “interrogation in depth” of the Hooded Men during their internment in 1971.
In 1978 the European Court of Human Rights held that the treatment amounted to inhuman and degrading treatment in breach of Article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights, but not torture. Following the discovery of new material held by the British government which had not been disclosed to the Court in the original proceedings, the Irish Government requested that the judgement be revised. A committee of the Court refused the request in March of this year. The Irish Government will now appeal that decision to the Grand Chamber of the Court.
The Committee on the Administration of Justice is representing Mary McKenna in Court of Appeal proceedings in Northern Ireland seeking to secure a full criminal investigation into the torture of the “hooded men” and in particular its authorisation by government ministers. Mary McKenna’s father, Sean McKenna, died in 1975 after having suffered “interrogation in depth” during his internment in 1971.
Mary had commenced Judicial Review proceedings in the Dublin High Court yesterday in order to compel the Irish Government to make a decision on this case. Speaking after the news today she said:
“I am absolutely delighted and relieved at this decision today as it is another step forward on the long road in order to get justice for my father, and for the other men who suffered such terrible mistreatment.”
CAJ strongly welcomes the Irish Government decision to refer the matter on to the European Court’s Grand Chamber. The original decision in Ireland v UK made an artificial distinction between torture and inhuman and degrading treatment which has been used by other states to justify cruel interrogation methods on the basis that the methods do not constitute “torture”.
The case also raises wider issues about states’ observance of their obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights and what consequences should flow where a state engages in non-disclosure and obstruction during the course of European Court proceedings.