This week UK Supreme Court is hearing challenges by the Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Department of Justice and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, to the judgments of the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal that there should be independent investigations into two Troubles era cases, in a manner compliant with Articles 2 and 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The first case involves the fatal shooting in 1972 of a young Catholic mother, Ms Jean Smyth-Campbell, in circumstances where British Army logs discovered by chance by a researcher in 2014 appear to implicate the Army in her killing. The second case involves unlawful interrogation techniques used against the “Hooded Men”, 14 men detained in Northern Ireland in 1971, as part of a mass arrest and internment operation.
In 2019, the Court of Appeal ruled that an investigation into the authorisation of criminal acts committed against the Hooded Men during the interrogation should proceed, notwithstanding that those acts long preceded the entry into force of the Human Rights Act 1998; they also ruled that the Hooded Men’s treatment amounted to torture. They similarly ruled that the possible responsibility of the British Army for the killing of Ms Smyth-Campbell should be investigated, along with the possible “non-benign” reasons for the failure by the police to pursue that line of investigation historically and contemporaneously.