Reassessment of the Ireland v. the United Kingdom ECtHR case: A lost opportunity to clarify the distinction between torture and ill-treatment
Introduction: In the 1978 Ireland v. the United Kingdom case, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) did not consider that the so called "five techniques" caused enough severity to be considered torture. The intentionality criterion, outlined in the Convention against Torture’s definition of torture, was also not fully considered. The Istanbul Protocol, which is critical for evidencing torture, did not exist at that time. Although a re-opening of the case was requested in 2014 by Ireland, forensic documentation using the Istanbul Protocol was not used; in 2018, the ECtHR decided against re-opening the case. Objective: By using the Ireland v. The United Kingdom case, this paper aims to map the origins of the five techniques, review whether applying them constitutes torture, analyze the information about the claimants available 30 years later, and explore the ramifications of the ECtHR decision not to revise its judgment. Methodology: Relevant texts were gathered from the HUDOC database, Cambridge University Press, Wiley Online Library, SCOPUS and MEDLINE /PubMed, and the Library of the ECtHR in Strasbourg. Discussion/conclusions: The five techniques, elaborated upon in the case of Ireland v. the United Kingdom, were used well before the incidents in Northern Ireland in 1971 and there is evidence that United Kingdom officials have, subsequently, used the techniques. Furthermore, there is clear evidence that the “Hooded Men” had cognitive, psychological and neurovegetative symptoms as a result of the five techniques, which had long-term effects. The ECtHR did not take this into consideration when it decided not to re-open the case and the full implications of this decision for future cases and victims remain to be seen.
Blakeley, R., & Raphael, S. (2016). British torture in the “war on terror”. European Journal of International Relations 23(2), 243-266 https://doi.org/10.1177/1354066116653455
Conroy, J. (2001). Unspeakable Acts, Ordinary People: The dynamics of torture. University of California Press.
Donahue, D. (1980). Human rights in Northern Ireland: Ireland v. the United Kingdom. Boston College International and Comparative Law Review 3(2), 377-432.
ECtHR. (2000). Akkoç v. Turkey, 22947/93, 10 October 2000.
ECtHR. (1996). Aksoy v. Turkey, 21987/93, 18 December 1996.
ECtHR. (1997). Aydin v. Turkey, 57/1996/676/866, 25 September 1997.
ECtHR. (1982). Campbell and Cosans v. the United Kingdom, 7511/76, 7743/76, 25 February 1982.
ECtHR (2000). Dikme v. Turkey, 20869/92, 11 July 2000.
ECtHR. (1978). Ireland v. the United Kingdom, 5310/71, 19 January 1978.
ECtHR. (2018). Ireland v. the United Kingdom, 5310/71, 20 March 2018.
ECtHR. (1994). Selmouni v. France, 25803/94, 28 July 1999.
ECommHR (1976). Ireland v. the United Kingdom- European Yearbook of the European Convention on Human Rights, 19.
Eldemire, S. (2018). From Belfast to Guantanamo: The alleged torture of Northern Ireland’s “Hooded Men”. The Intercept.https://theintercept.com/2018/03/22/ireland-hooded-men-torture/
Farrell, L. (2018). Hooded Man: “They asked me to count to ten; I refused in case I couldn’t do it”. The Journal.ie http://www.thejournal.ie/hooded-men-what-happened-torture-3914257-Mar2018/
Fields, R.M. (2008). The neurobiological consequences of psychological torture in Ojeda A.E. The trauma of psychological torture. Westport: Praeger Pubs, 139-62.
Her Majesty’s Stationery Office (HMSO), Report of the Committee of privy Counsellors appointed to consider authorized procedures for the interrogation of persons suspected of terrorism (Parker Report), Cmnd. 4901.
Her Majesty’s Stationery Office (HMSO), Report of the inquiry into allegations against the security forces of physical brutality in Northern Ireland arising out of events on the 9th August, 1971 (Compton Report), Cmd.no.4823.
Her Majesty’s Stationery Office (HMSO), The Baha Mousa Public Inquiry Report (Chairman Sir William Gage), 2011, HC 1452–I.
IACtHR. (2000). Cantoral Benavudes v. Peru, 330029, 18 August 2000.
IACtHR. (2004). Tibi v. Ecuador 12.124/98, 07 September 2004.
Leach, J. (2016). Psychological factors in exceptional, extreme and torturous environments. Extreme physiology & medicine, 5(1), 7.
Lopez Curzi, C. (2017). Explainer: What were the five techniques and why will they never work? Rights Info https://rightsinfo.org/explainer-five-techniques-will-never-work/
McCoy, A. (2012). Torture and impunity: The U.S. doctrine of coercive interrogation. The University of Wisconsin Press.
McKay, S. (2015). The torture center: Northern Ireland’s “hooded men”. The Irish Times https://www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-and-law/the-torture-centre-northern-ireland-s-hooded-men-1.2296152
Murphy, C. (2016). The haunting of the “Hooded Men”. Trinity College Law Review Online, 1-9.
Newbery, S. (2009). Intelligence and Controversial British Interrogation Techniques: The Northern Ireland Case, 1971-2. Irish Studies in International Affairs, 20(1), 103-119. http://dx.doi.org/10.3318/ISIA.2009.20.103
Newbery, S. (2015). Interrogation, intelligence and security: The origins and effects of controversial British techniques, 1963-2003. Manchester University Press.
Neziroglu, I. (2007). A comparative analysis of mental and psychological suffering as torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment under international human rights treaty law. Essex Human Rights Review 4(1), 1-16.
Nowak. M. (2009). Torture and enforced disappearance. In C. Krause & M. Scheinin, International Protection of Human Rights: A Textbook. Turku:
Institute for Human Rights, Åbo Akademi University.
O’Boyle, M. (2018). Revising the verdict in Ireland v UK: time for a reality check? EjilTalk https://www.ejiltalk.org/revising-the-verdict-in-ireland-v-uk-time-for-a-reality-check/
Ojeda A.E (2008). The trauma of psychological torture.Westport: Praeger Pubs.
Padeanu, I. (2018). Why the ECHR decided not to revise its judgment in the Ireland v. the UK case. EjilTalk, https://www.ejiltalk.org/why-the-echr-decided-not-to-revise-its-judgment-in-the-ireland-v-the-united-kingdom-case/
Pérez-Sales, P. (2017). Psychological Torture: Definition, evaluation and measurement. Routledge Books.
Pérez-Sales, P. (2017). Drawing the fine line between interrogation and torture: towards a Universal Protocol on Investigative Interviewing.Torture Journal, 27(2), https://doi.org/10.7146/torture.v27i2.97234
Reidy, A. (2002). A guide to the implementation of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Council of Europe, Human Rights Handbooks No.6.
Reyes, H. (2007). The worst scars are in the mind: Psychological torture. International Review of the Red Cross, 89(867), 591-616 https://doi.org10.1017/S1816383107001300
Rodley, N. (2014). Integrity of the person. 17-195. In International human rights law (Eds.) Moeckli, D. Shah, S and Sivakumaran, S. Oxford University Press.
Rodley, N., & Pollard, M. (2009). The treatment of prisoners under international law. OUP Oxford.
Turner, S & Gorst-Unsworth, C. (1990). Psychological sequelae of torture; A descriptive model. British Journal of Psychiatry, 157(4). 1-20 https://doi.org10.1192/bjp.157.4.475
Authors will be asked to sign a transfer of copyright agreement, which recognises the common interest that both journal and author(s) have in the protection of copyright. We accept that some authors (e.g. government employees in some countries) are unable to transfer copyright. The copyright covers both the Torture Journal and the IRCT web site. The publisher will not put any limitation on the personal freedom of the author to use material contained in the paper in other works which may be published, provided that acknowledgement is made to the original place of publication.