Wednesday 13 December 2017

Amal Clooney joins legal team to represent tortured Northern Irish men

Human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin Clooney. Photo: Reuters
Human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin Clooney. Photo: Reuters
Amal and George Clooney.
Amal Clooney.
When George Clooney introduced fiancee Amal to the world, they made sure to do it Old Hollywood style.
Amal Clooney
Amal in Alamuddin in Greece yesterday
George and Amal Clooney
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

International human rights lawyer Amal Clooney has joined a legal team representing a group known as the "hooded men".

Amal Clooney, married to film star George Clooney, is part of a team representing the ten men who are taking the UK to the European Court of Human Rights, the BBC has reported.

In 1971, during their interrogation at Ballykelly British Army base in Derry, 14 men were subjected to five sensory deprivation techniques, including wall standing, hooding, subjection to noise, sleep deprivation and deprivation of food and drink.

The men allege they were tortured when they were held without trial in Northern Ireland in August 1971.

Actor George Clooney and Amal Clooney attend the 72nd Annual Golden Globe Awards
Actor George Clooney and Amal Clooney attend the 72nd Annual Golden Globe Awards

As the Troubles took hold, the Irish Government claimed a boundary had been crossed and complained, to the European Commission and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), that the enhanced interrogation techniques deployed by its closest neighbour were torture.

In 1978, the Strasbourg-based court found that the techniques, used in combination for a long period, fell into the category of inhuman treatment. But, in a controversial ruling that has haunted that institution's jurisprudential reputation ever since, the court said they did not amount to torture, since "they did not occasion suffering of the particular intensity and cruelty implied by the word torture."

In December, the Government decided to ask the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to reopen the landmark court case against Britain over the alleged use of torture techniques.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan said the decision to request a review of the ECHR's 1978 ruling was being taken "in the principles of justice and the protection of human rights".

The Government reconsidered the matter following the broadcast of an RTE documentary on the 'Hooded Men' last June.

The documentary, 'The Torture Files', alleged that the British authorities at the time purposely misled the European Commission on Human Rights and the Court by withholding information in the case.

George and Amal plan a visit to the auld sod
George and Amal plan a visit to the auld sod

It also alleged that the decision to employ the interrogation techniques had been taken at UK cabinet level.

The ECHR will now be asked to revise its controversial 1978 judgment over the alleged use of the techniques in 1971 on a group known as the 'Hooded Men' because hoods were place over their heads during interrogation. The men and their families said the case, which was brought by the Government against the UK government, should be reopened after new information emerged in the RTE programme.

In December, the men launched High Court proceedings aimed at compelling the Government to decide if it was to seek to revise the 1978 ECHR finding that their treatment, while inhuman and degrading, did not constitute torture.

Read More: Amal Clooney finds it 'uneasy' being in the spotlight

George Clooney and his wife Amal Alamuddin
George Clooney and his wife Amal Alamuddin

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