Action Hero

Amal Clooney, internationally renowned human rights lawyer and wife of actor George Clooney, has joined a team of lawyers from Ireland and the UK representing the case of the so-called “hooded men”.

The “hooded men”, originally a group of fourteen, with now eleven survivng, alleged that they were subjected to torture by the British government while being held without trial in 1971.

In addition to being hooded, they claimed that they were deprived of sleep, food, and water, as well as being constantly subjected to static noise and forced to stand in static positions until they fell from exhaustion, upon which they were beaten.

While being transported to detainment facilities by helicopter, some of the men (while hooded) were told that they were being thrown to their deaths from hundreds of feet while in fact they were a (relatively) short distance from the ground.

A 1976 ruling by the European Commission on Human Rights found that the men had indeed been tortured, but on appeal, the Commission found that their treatment by the British authorities was “inhumane and degrading”, but did not constitute torture.

The Irish government is now backing the survivour’s campaign to have their case re-examined. Amal Clooney is joining Kevin Winters and Company, the chief solictors involved in the case.

BBC News quoted solicitor Darragh Mackin as saying “The case of the “hooded men” is one of the most significant judgements in human rights history. We think Amal’s tack record speaks for itself…it is very significant that we have people with the background and experience of Amal and the other barristers who are involved making this application.”

Mr. Mackin has made no understatement concerning the importance of this case. The methods of “interrogation” used by the British government against the “hooded men” have been widely adopted by “civilised” countries around the world. With such a formidable force as Amal Clooney joining their ranks, the “hooded men” could very well once and for all redfine the difference between “inhumane and degrading treatment” and sheer torture.

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