The Hooded Men Denied Justice Again

‘Such an injustice that its unresolved legacy has allowed the British State like the American State to excuse this torture as enhanced interrogation techniques.’

The European Court of Human Rights has rejected a request launched by the 26 county administration in Ireland. The request was in relation to the hooded men, who were arrested, tortured and later interned in 1971. It was an effort to reinstate the first verdict made by the court in relation to the case which found that these men were in fact tortured by the British army with full complicity of the British Government. The dispute is over a ruling made by the court in 1978, which found that the British Government had carried out inhuman and degrading treatment but this fell short of defining the treatment as torture. It was this verdict that was upheld today.

These men were taken to undisclosed locations, threatened to be thrown from a helicopter which they were told was thousands of feet in the air, striped, put into stress positions, beaten, hooded, denied food and sleep, then being subjected to hours of white noise constantly playing in their ears. If this isn’t torture what exactly is?

This was a reckless and ridiculous decision by the European Court and we would surmise that their decision was based upon political sensitivities and not wanting to shame the British State into admitting that it was and still is a state which embodies human rights abuses like torture across the globe, even to this day.

The United Nations defines torture as the ‘infliction of severe physical or mental pain or suffering,’ the key word here is severe. This subjective term, determines whether or not certain treatments are designated as torture. a study carried out in 2011 in the journal psychological science condemns this method of classification and states that it is fundamentally flawed. In a obvious but compelling statement it says that those who are estimating the pain, are not experiencing the pain, and therefore are always likely to under estimate the pain experienced. We would further that by stating that most of those who do estimate the pain have never been subjected to torture and therefore are ill equipped to make this determination, therefore this determination should not be a factor at all.

Loran F. Nordberg of Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management is one of the authors of this research piece and says that many acts of torture are not classified as torture. This is clearly the case of the hooded men. Speaking on the Bush administrations enhanced interrogation techniques such as stress posturing and water boarding, both used by the British State, he says that the courts and media minimised the psychological and physical distress, so that they could state that this treatment was not torture. This of course has just happened today and in 1978, such an injustice that its unresolved legacy has allowed the British State like the American State to excuse this torture as enhanced interrogation techniques.

They go on to state: ‘In this denial, the authors saw a perfect demonstration of a psychological phenomenon called the “empathy gap,” says Loewenstein: “People in one affective state”—hunger, anger, pain—“cannot appreciate or predict another one.” If you’re warm, you can’t imagine the misery of being cold; if you’re rested, sleep deprivation doesn’t seem so bad.’

The law is flawed and cannot deliver justice for those who have suffered the most horrible of torture methods employed by an imperialist power, which as we stated has been the centre for human rights abuses since its inception. Republican Sinn Fein utterly condemns the European Court of Human Rights and their utter lack of coherence in not holding the British State accountable for its crimes against the occupied people of Ireland. This treatment is tantamount to torture in any rational mind and would urge those judges not to become pawns in the game of politics. If they cannot do this then they are not fit to make rulings on human rights abuses and should be disbanded immediately.

Below we have posted the source of the information, plus a PDF of the original study.


Empathy Gaps for Social Pain

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