Amal Clooney is criticizing the European Court of Human Rights’s decision in a case about the treatment of Irish prisoners as “shameful.”
The human rights lawyer, 40, is part of a team from London’s Doughty Street law firm representing five men who were detained and subjected to sensory-deprivation techniques by British authorities in the 1970s during the conflict known as “the Troubles” in Northern Ireland.
During human rights court hearings in 1978, the prisoners – known collectively as “the hooded men” because the techniques involved the forcible use of a dark hood over the men’s faces, among other measures such as death threats and stress positions – were found to have received “inhuman and degrading treatment” at the hands of the British authorities.
Together with her colleagues, Clooney — who plans to attend the March For Our Lives alongside husband George Clooney on Saturday — litigated to have this ruling upgraded to the status of “torture” based on fresh evidence discovered at the U.K.’s National Archives that had been previously been kept secret for 30 years.
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“That new evidence undoubtedly supported the conclusion that the treatment of the Hooded Men constituted torture, and that those at the highest level of the U.K. government had authorised it,” Clooney said in a written statement penned with legal colleague Adam Straw.
“The Court’s 1978 judgment was the first case in which the European Court defined torture, and it has been relied on by governments around the world to justify similarly brutal practices,” she added, calling it “shameful that the request by the Hooded Men to intervene in the case was completely ignored by the Court.”
“Our clients, who suffered the effects of these interrogation techniques, have expressed their disappointment that the Court has not taken up this opportunity to correct this grave injustice.”
Francis McGuigan, one of the Hooded Men, added, “After a long and turbulent road, we are dismayed by today’s judgment. It is now 40 years since the judgment, 15 years since the start of the Iraq war, and 3 years since we lost our fellow hooded man Gerry McKerr. It comes as a truly devastating blow.”
McGuigan, added: “This has ultimately allowed for many other torture victims like us, to be the subject of these techniques.”
Clooney and her colleagues are now appealing to the Grand Chamber of the European Court to have the ruling overturned.
“It is hoped that this injustice can be corrected in that forum, for the sake of the integrity of the Court and survivors of torture all over the world,” Clooney added in her statement.