Hooded men litigation: ECtHR rejects Irish request to find torture in 1978 case against UK


Re: Ireland v United Kingdom (App No 5310/71)

Ireland made the revision request in the case Ireland v The United Kingdom (App No 5310/71) 1978 on the grounds that new evidence had emerged, which showed, in particular, that the effects of the ill-treatment had been long-term and severe. The 14 men involved in the case were detained by the British authorities under emergency powers in 1971. The “five techniques” used against the men were hooding, stress positions, white noise, sleep deprivation and deprivation of food and water. These were combined with physical assaults and death threats.

By a majority of 6 to 1 the Court found that the Government of Ireland had not demonstrated the existence of facts that were unknown to the Court at the time or which would have had a decisive influence on the original judgment. There was therefore no justification to revise the judgment.

In his dissenting opinion Judge O’Leary stated that the Court had “sought to shelter itself” behind the principle of legal certainty to refuse to re-open the case. By doing so, “it risked damaging the authority of [its] case-law”.

Ben Emmerson QC was involved in this case.