Use of "torture" in 1971/ 72 was "a political decision"

This letter, written 31 March 1977, explicitly states that torture in Northern Ireland was a political decision made by then Secretary of State Lord Carrington.

In a 1977 letter to Prime Minister James Callaghan, home secretary Merlyn Rees addresses Ireland's claims to the European Court of Human Rights that the British government violated Article 3 of the Convention on Human Rights when they tortured detainees in Northern Ireland. He states that "the decision to use methods of torture in Northern Ireland in 1971/1972 was taken by ministers, in particular Lord Carrington, then secretary of state for defence." Secretary Rees goes on to state that because the torture was sanctioned by the government it was not proper to prosecute anyone, saying; 

"If at any time methods of torture are used in Northern Ireland contrary to the view of the government of the day, I would agree that individual policemen or soldiers should be prosecuted or disciplined; but in the particular circumstances of 1971-1972, a political decision was made."


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Letter from Merlyn Rees to James Callaghan37.29 KB