Amal Clooney, the international human rights lawyer who entered the public eye after marrying actor George Clooney last year, has joined the legal team representing a group of former IRA suspects in their torture case against the British government.
Clooney, currently a barrister with Doughty Street Chambers, has worked on a number of high-profile international cases. She represents WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange who is fighting extradition to Sweden, and is on the legal team helping the Greek government in its case to repatriate the Elgin Marbles from the British Museum. She has also represented former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and served as an advisor to Kofi Annan on Syria.
Tina Fey and Amy Poehler further elaborated on her resume during the Golden Globes:
The Irish government decided in December to re-open the famous case of fourteen men, known as the “hooded men,” who were imprisoned without trial and interrogated by British forces in 1971. They were held at a secret location since revealed as the Shackleton Barracks at Ballykelly in Co. Derry, where they were subjected to “deep interrogation techniques” including beatings; sleep, water and food deprivation; prolonged exposure to white noise machines; and wearing head-coverings for days on end.
They were also forced to stand in stress positions for long periods of time and thrown from helicopters they had been told were in mid-flight but were actually just a few feet above the ground. None of the men was ever convicted.
The European Commission of Human Rights first ruled on the case – one of the most significant legal battles during the Troubles in Northern Ireland – in 1976, upholding Ireland’s charges that the men had been tortured. However, this ruling was overturned in a 1978 appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. It concluded that the treatment of the IRA suspects in British custody was “inhumane and degrading,” but did not constitute torture.
This came to be seen as a landmark decision and has been used subsequently to justify interrogation methods used by countries around the world, including the Unites States during the waterboarding controversy of the early 2000s.
After an RTE documentary, “The Torture Files," brought to light new evidence that British authorities withheld information from the European Court of Human Rights, the Irish government came under pressure from the surviving victims and from Amnesty International to ask the court to revise its ruling.
Amal Clooney, who joins a team of lawyers from London, Dublin and Belfast, will be representing 10 of the surviving men and the families of the three “hooded men” who have since passed away. The fourteenth man, still alive, has declined to press charges.
The BBC reports that she will be traveling to Belfast at some point soon to meet with Kevin Winters and Company, a firm involved with the case, and to meet the 10 men themselves.