The Government has been found guilty of unlawfully condoning the hooding of prisoners in its guidance to intelligence officers and service personnel.
The ruling at London’s High Court means that the Government will now have to again revise the Consolidated Guidance to Intelligence Officers and Service Personnel, which was only issued by Prime Minister David Cameron in July last year.
The latest case was brought by Public Interest Lawyers (PIL) on behalf of Iraqi prisoner, Alaa’ Nassif Jassim Al-Bazzouni, who was subjected to hooding by British forces in 2006.
Phil Shiner of PIL said judgement represents the final nail in the coffin of the Ministry of Defence’s “desperate and morally corrupt efforts to keep hooding alive as a permissible interrogation technique.”
“The MoD’s position has been that it is still legally permissible for security reasons. This judgment slams the door shut forever on hooding involving UK personnel anywhere in the world,” Shiner said in a statement.
The UK’s guidance is that that sight deprivation and hooding of prisoners was inhumane and unlawful “except where these do not pose a risk to the detainee’s physical or mental health and is necessary for security reasons during arrest or transit.”
But the court found that Al-Bazzouni had “convincing uncontradicted evidence” that hooding “will always by its nature pose a risk to the detainee’s physical and mental health.”
The ruling was brought alongside a judgement on a separate challenge to the same guidance by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
The ruling was delayed until after last month’s publication of the official inquiry into the death of Basra hotel worker Baha Mousa, which concluded that British soldiers inflicted an “appalling episode of serious, gratuitous violence” on a number of Iraqi civilian detainees leading to the death. It also recommended an absolute prohibition on hooding.
Another judicial review yet to be heard is being brought on controversial interrogation tactic currently permitted in the practice of ‘harshing’, where soldiers scream and shout close up to a detainees’ face in order to intimidate the suspect and break down his or her psychological resistance.