The Hooded Men: A Brutal Crime Committed by the British Army

A new documentary, The Hooded Men, shows what occurred to the men and dirty wee Tortures. The film is produced by Walk on Air Films and airs on BBC One Northern Ireland. The new documentary interviewed some of the surviving “Hooded Men” and their ongoing battle to receive an apology for what they endured about what the British army did. In the following, we will answer the questions: who are Hooded men? What is the torture law in the UK and EU? What is the case of Baha Mousa?

“Operation Demetrius” the UK government operation in 1971

It started at a house party. On August 9, 1971, while Jim Auld and his friends drank pints of beer and walked to the Rolling Stones in their nationalist region of West Belfast, the government of NI and the British Army began “Operation Demetrius.” Auld returned to his parent’s house around 3:30 a.m. and thought it was weird that the lights were still on. He found the door open and an armed stranger waiting for him on the other side. Soldiers jumped out from the bushes and detained him.


In 1971, the army was struggling to control riots and paramilitary violence. In August, troops detained hundreds of nationalists and Catholic suspects at Long Kesh, a camp outside Belfast. Fourteen persons including Auld, Pat Shivers, Joe Clarke, Michael Donnelly, Kevin Hannaway, Paddy Joe McClean, Francis McGuigan, Patrick McNally, Sean McKenna, Gerry McKerr, Michael Montgomery, Davy Rodgers, Liam Shannon, Brian Turley –went to the secret section at Ballykelly. They were hooded, so they did not see it, and were unknown to each other. These 14 men became commonly famous as the ‘Hooded Men’.


Arresting men without charge or trial in Northern Ireland in 1971

On August 9 1971, 342 people were arrested in one day. Over three days, 21 people were killed – 17 shot by the British Army, including 11 in what is famous as “the Ballymurphy massacre”. Over the following four years, almost 2,000 were arrested.

 That may sound like psychosis, but Auld and 13 other men were separated as guinea pigs for special interrogation techniques repeated by British and US interrogators in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay. “It was similar to what we went through,” said Auld in an interview. 


A doctor examined Auld and selected him correctly for interrogation. Auld was exposed to what was similar to “enhanced interrogation” for at least seven miserable days and nights. The five techniques are stress position, hooding, white noise, sleep deprivation, and little food and drink. Auld received £16,000 in relief. After 9/11, the Bush administration framed it as an “enhanced interrogation” policy.

A dark report from the US Senate reveals how the CIA used waterboarding, ‘rectal feeding’, mock executions, sleep deprivation, stress positions and other cruel and degrading treatment against detainees. In the years after 9/11, Abu Zubaydah was the only CIA prisoner who went through all 12 of the agency’s “enhanced interrogation techniques”, including being beaten, deprived of sleep and locked in a small box. After a four-year survey, the all-party intelligence and security committee (ISC) noted in its report published on Thursday that MI6 had “direct awareness of extreme mistreatment and possibly dirty wee torture” of Zubaydah, a Saudi prisoner and almost 600 cases in which a prisoner was mistreated in the years after 9/11.


The use of torture in the common law and the UK’s law

Moreover, to the appointed standard law provisions, section 134 Criminal Justice Act 1988 makes it a crime for any public official to ‘intentionally inflict severe pain or suffering on another in the performance. Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights bans torture and inhuman and degrading treatment equally.


Although the British government forbade utilizing the Five Techniques in 1972, the country’s military would use them until at least 2003, when they resulted in the death of Baha Mousa, an Iraqi civilian detainee. In 1972, following an investigation of prisoners in Northern Ireland, then-Prime Minister Edward Heath prohibited hooding, white noise, sleep deprivation, food deprivation and painful stress positions – known as the “five techniques”.


In late 2017, the Supreme Court ruled that the failure of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) to investigate the claims of dirty torture was illegal and should be repealed. In 2019 major part, the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal archived documents demonstrated the UK admitted to “high level” authorization to forbid any detailed inquiry – and that it adverse hearing witnesses on the five techniques to avoid exposing the Cabinet ministers involved. The UK Supreme Court has ruled that a Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) choice in 2014 to stop an investigation into claims that men were hooded and interrogated by the British army at the height of the Troubles was illegal.


In 2021, a UK Supreme Court ruling raised notes that the Police Service of Northern Ireland would survey the dirty torture claims. But the UK government’s “legacy” bill is envisaged to quench any chance that this, or other unresolved Troubles cases, will be investigated. In a point raised by the Irish government, the European court of human rights ruled in 1978 that the treatment of the “hooded men” was brutal and embarrassing but not torture. In 1976, the European Commission on Human Rights ruled that dirty torture techniques were torture.

Another example of British army detention

Baha Mousa died with 93 injuries in British army detention in Basra in 2003. Sir William Gage blamed “corporate failure” at the Ministry of Defence for using banned interrogation methods in Iraq. Prime Minister David Cameron said such a so-called incident should never happen again. “The British Army, as it does, should uphold the highest standards. If further evidence from this inquiry requires action, it should be taken.” Cameron said. The investigation concluded that the death was caused by his weakened physical state and a final bout of abuse. The inquiry found that Cpl Donald Payne had violently assaulted Mr Mousa in the minutes before he passed away, punching and possibly kicking him and using a dangerous restraint method. Mr Mousa, a father of two, died two days after his unlawful arrest. Mr Mousa’s 22-year-old wife had died of cancer shortly before his apprehension, meaning his death left his two young sons, Hussein and Hassan, orphan. Therefore it seems there are more Mousas and Aulds in the history of the UK.

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