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Report of an Amnesty International Mission to Northern Ireland (28 Nov - 6 Dec 1977)



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CHAPTER III

Case Studies of Alleged Maltreatment

This chapter deals with the evidence on 78 persons regarding whom there are allegations of maltreatment by Royal Ulster Constabulary personnel, and whose cases were examined by the Amnesty International mission. The degree of evidence available varied throughout this sample of cases. In 39 instances the mission was able to interview individuals on whom no corroborative medical evidence was available. In 26 instances the delegates received documentary medical evidence relating to individuals whom they were not able to interview. In 13 cases the delegates interviewed persons on whom medical evidence was available.

One of the 39 cases on whom medical evidence was not available, and 4 of the 13 cases with medical evidence, were selected by the mission, for more detailed examination by the medical delegates. The results of the examination of these various categories of evidence are given in this chapter of the report.

The evidence presented to the mission in interviews and statements reflected, of course, the account given by each complainant. In the absence of access to the reports of police doctors who examined the complainants, and due to the fact that the mission was unable to discuss individual cases with the authorities, this was inevitable. For precisely this reason, and because of the controversy surrounding allegations of maltreatment in Northern Ireland (see Chapter I), this report places great emphasis on medical evidence, and in particular on the reports of doctors who examined the complainants after the alleged maltreatment.

Individual cases illustrative of the evidence received by the mission are given in the annexes of this chapter for all categories save that on which no medical evidence was available.


39 persons interviewed by the mission on whom medical evidence was not available to the delegates:

The persons interviewed were between the ages of 13 and 60, the majority being between 18 and 22. Five of them had been detained in 1976, six during the first half of 1977 and 28 during the latter half of 1977. line large majority of allegations of maltreatment concerned plainclothes detectives of the RUC. The army was mentioned in a few cases and the uniformed RUC in one case only. The sample consists of 26 men and 13 women, from both rural and urban areas, and includes both Protestants and Roman Catholics, although the latter predominate. Of the 39, 30 were released without charge.

Types of maltreatment alleged varied only slightly throughout the sample and can be divided into the following subgroups:

a.   Psychologically exhausting procedures
Six individuals complained of prolonged interrogation sessions with oppressive questioning.

b.   Physically exhausting procedures
Nineteen individuals complained of this, the most common allegations being that they were made to stand at a wall for long periods of time (cases varied from 15 minutes to 4-5 hours continuously); to stand with the arms lifted for prolonged periods; to sit with the back against the wall as if sitting on a chair; running on the spot for lengthy periods.

c.   Threats
23 persons alleged threats. Three women said that they had been threatened with rape and in two cases the light in the interview room was allegedly switched off just after the threat was made. Other threats were alleged to have comprised threats of beatings) threats of being killed after release, threats of long prison sentences, threats to their families and threats of being left in a hostile sectarian area. Frequently it was alleged that different types of threats were used during the same interview period.

d.   Beatings to the body and extremities
23 persons alleged that this had happened during their interrogation sessions. It was alleged that the beatings had been inflicted with closed fists, as well as by banging the victim against a wall. Allegations included kicking of the body and genitals and squeezing of the genitals.

e.   Direct beatings to the head
19 persons alleged that they had been beaten about the head either with the open hand or closed fist, or by having their head banged against a wall.

f.   Humiliation
Ten people alleged humiliating treatment, such as being forced to remove their clothes and, in the case of some women, having their skirts lifted. One woman alleged that she had not been allowed to change her sanitary napkin during her menstruation.

g.   Other methods
39 persons alleged other types of maltreatment such as wristbending (4 persons), choking (3 persons), sleep deprivation (2 persons), hooding (3 persons), and being burnt with a cigarette (1 person). The three cases of hooding consist of 2 persons who alleged that plastic bags were placed over their heads, and a third who alleged that his coat was pulled over his head. The majority of the others complained of having been shaken and having had their hair pulled.

In all 39 cases maltreatment as described above was alleged to have occurred during interrogation with at least 2 and in some cases as many as 6 police officers at a time being involved. Usually maltreatment was alleged to have been intermittent -interspersed with interview sessions in which no maltreatment occurred.

In the majority of the cases in this group it was alleged that interrogation took place intermittently throughout the day. In a number of cases the interrogation continued into the night. The length of each interview period varied between one or two hours and sometimes longer.

The total period of maltreatment alleged varied - usually according to the length of detention; in some of the cases examined it was alleged to have occurred intermittently throughout the first three days of detention; most of those detained for longer than three days under the Prevention of Terrorism Act alleged that maltreatment occurred intermittently for periods of between three and five days.

Many of the individuals interviewed complained of nervousness, sleep disturbances, and difficulty in concentrating following the detention period. One alleged having contemplated suicide and three stated that they had attempted suicide during detention. Four were transferred to psychiatric hospitals or were put under the care of a psychiatrist following detention. However, medical documentary evidence to this effect was not available to the mission.

It should be emphasized that the allegations made by individuals dealt with in this section were related to the mission delegates without being elicited by leading questions from the delegates. Considering this, the volume and consistency of the allegations adds weight to the general assertion that maltreatment had occurred, and provides a context for the cases with medical evidence which are examined in the following sections of this chapter.


Nature of the Medical Evidence

The mission was able to examine medical reports in the cases of 39 of the 78 persons whose allegations of maltreatment are the subject of this chapter. Nearly all these reports were from the arrested persons’ own doctors or from other doctors who examined detained persons at the request of lawyers either during or shortly after detention in police custody. In most of these cases, and in many of the remaining 39 cases, police doctors’ reports also exist, but were not available to the mission.

Of the 78 persons whose cases are examined in this report, 37 were known to have received a medical examination by a police doctor on arrival at a detention centre and 29 on release from police custody. Some were also examined by police doctors during their detention. In the majority of the cases where medical evidence was studied by the mission an outside doctor did not examine the arrested person until at least the third day of detention (see Chapter IV on access to detained persons). In a number of cases, however, arrested persons were examined by their own doctors soon after arrest, and at intervals thereafter. In respect of the 39 cases where medical evidence was examined by the mission, the delegates received nearly 50 medical reports from approximately 40 different general practitioners from throughout Northern Ireland and from different sections of the community. The delegates also spoke with 13 doctors who had all examined individuals in police custody.

The doctors written reports varied considerably in length an in detail. The delegates had in no case reason to disbelieve any of the medical reports presented to them. In many of the cases a police doctor’s report was made at the same time as the general practitioners s report, but these were not available to the mission. The delegates believe it would be of great value to have the police doctors’ reports, especially those based on examinations made on arrival in detention centres as these could possibly offer an additional check on the validity of the allegations. Police doctors reports on release or transfer could also be compared with reports of examination on arrival. In cases where detained persons refused a medical examination on arrival in detention the possibility of cross-checking the allegations in this way is eliminated. Police doctors’ reports are made available in cases where persons alleging maltreatment are brought to trial, but usually only at a late stage in criminal proceedings; in the majority of cases examined by the mission the complainants were released without charge.

A group of police doctors expressed their willingness in principle to make their reports available to the mission but needed the permission of the Northern Ireland Police Authority to do so.

The mission's request to the Northern Ireland Police Authority for access to police doctors' reports was not granted on the grounds that:

a.   It would involve discussion of individual cases with the authorities, contrary to the terms set down by the authorities for their discussions with the AI delegation.

b.   It would violate the sub-judice role in cases where trials are pending.

In this report the word "symptom" is used to describe physical and/or mental "after-effects" claimed by complainants. Objective findings as recorded by doctors after examination of the complainants are referred to as "signs". A glossary of medical terms is added to the report.


26 Cases on which Medical Evidence was available to the Mission but who were not interviewed by the Mission

26 persons in this group were males. 23 were arrested and allegedly subjected to maltreatment in 1977, one in 1975 and two in 1974. In some cases no information about the age of the individuals was available to the mission but where this information was known the subjectst ages varied from 17 to 32 years, averaging about 23 years. The persons concerned came from different parts of Northern Ireland, both rural and urban. In 24 cases maltreatment was alleged to have been inflicted by plainclothes RUC personnel and in two cases by plainclothes RUC personnel together with army personnel.

Maltreatment was most frequently alleged to have taken place in Castlereagh Police Holding Centre (17 cases) , but the following other locations were also mentioned : Strand Road RUC Station, Londonderry (1), Omagh RUC Station (2), Cookstown RUC Station (1), Newry RUC Station (2), Bessbrook RUC Station (1), Forkhill Military Barracks (1) and Newcastle RUC Station (1).

Ten of the 26 persons were known to have been medically examined by a police doctor, 6 on arrival at Castlereagh and 4 on arrival at other detention centres. One refused a medical examination, one was not offered an examination and two were not examined for reasons unknown. In 11 cases the mission does not know if the person was medically examined on arrival.

18 of the 26 persons were medically examined by an outside doctor during their detention in police custody. In the remaining 8 cases examination by an outside doctor took place only after their release from police custody; in four of these cases the examination took place shortly after their transfer from police custody to Crumlin Road jail.

As a police doctor is always present when a person has a medical examination in police custody a police doctor’s report must exist for each of the 18 cases who had a medical examination during detention. In 15 of these cases specific reference to the existence of such reports was made.

Maltreatment most frequently alleged was beating (22 of the 26 cases). Other common allegations were hair-pulling (14 of the 26 cases), direct trauma to the head (12), physically exhausting procedures (13), beating on the stomach (10), threats (10) and choking (8). Less frequent allegations included physical violence to the genitals (5) and degrading, humiliating and mentally exhausting procedures (4). There were isolated allegations of other types of maltreatment.

In 14 of the cases examined the alleged victims of maltreatment claimed specific physical and/or mental symptoms. In 12 cases there was no information about symptoms. In the other 14 cases in this group pains were the most frequent symptoms (9), followed by exhaustion (3), nausea (3), and headache (3). Twelve persons complained of mental symptoms, most frequently anxiety (6), sleep disturbances (4), and nervousness. Three persons said they were fearful of future maltreatment.

From the medical reports available, there were signs in all cases except one. The most frequent physical signs were bruises, which were found in 17 of the 26 cases; then abrasions (8), tenderness of joints and muscles (7) and swelling of soft tissues and tenderness of palpation of abdomen (4). Four persons had a certain traumatic perforation of the eardrum and three of the cases had bone fracture. The signs of mental disturbances were most frequently anxiety (17) and states of nervous agitation (5). In two cases there were signs of severe depression. In a number of cases there was no information regarding the mental state of the patient in the medical report. In one case there were no signs at all, although the person in question alleged he had been maltreated by beating for l½ hours. In the opinion of the mission it is most unlikely that the maltreatment alleged in this latter case would have left no signs at the time of the medical examination, which took place during this person’s detention and after the alleged maltreatment.

In 23 of the 26 cases the mission found general consistency between the alleged maltreatment and signs. The mission could make no assessment of consistency in one case where the arrested person himself made no allegations although medical evidence was available. In two cases there was no consistency between alleged maltreatment and signs.

The eleven cases in Annex 1 to this chapter are representative of this group of 26. These cases have been selected not on the basis of the severity of the allegations, but rather as being representative of the entire sample of 26.


Nine Persons alleging Maltreatment who were interviewed by the Delegates and on whom Medical Evidence was available to the Mission.

One or more of the delegates took part in each of these interviews.

This group consists of 9 males, all of whom were arrested in 1977. Their ages vary from 19 to 32 years, the average being about 26. In three cases there was no information about the age. Four of the persons were interviewed in Belfast, three in Dungannon and two in Londonderry. In eight of the cases it was alleged that maltreatment had been carried out by plain-clothes members of the RUC, and, in one case, by both military personnel and plain-clothes members of the RUC. Maltreatment was alleged most frequently to have taken place in Castlereagh (8 cases), in one case in Omagh RUC Station, and in one case in Fort Monagh Army Barracks, Belfast.

Six of the nine had a medical examination on arrival at the detention centre. Two out of nine had refused the offer of medical examination and in one case, there is no information on this point. All nine persons were medically examined by a general practitioner and in some cases also by a police doctor during their stay in the detention center. Six of the nine had a medical examination when they left the detention center. One of the nine was not offered a medical examination, and in two cases there is no information on this point.

The most frequent allegations of maltreatment concerned methods producing direct trauma to the head (beating, wall-banging, etc.), which were alleged in all 9 cases. The followed general beating (8 cases), hair-pulling (8 cases), threats (6 cases)) physically exhausting procedures (5 cases), physical violence to the genitals (4 cases) and choking (3 cases).

The symptoms described after the alleged maltreatment were both mental and physical. Both immediate symptoms and those emerging later are included in the following description of individual cases. In one case, there was no information regarding symptoms. Of the 8 cases where symptoms are recorded, seven had mental symptoms, most frequently sleep disturbances and anxiety. Pains were the most common of the physical symptoms, which also included headaches, loss of consciousness (immediate) and impaired hearing.

In all nine cases there were signs. The most frequent physical sign was bruises, found on eight of the nine persons. This was followed in frequency by tenderness of joints and muscles (4 cases), and abrasions (4 cases). Two of the nine persons had a traumatic perforation of the eardrum. The most common mental signs were nervousness and anxiety. Only in three cases was there a description of the mental state in the medical report.

In all nine cases, there was general consistency between the alleged maltreatment and the signs described in the medical reports.

A summary description of each of the nine cases is given in Annex II to this chapter.

Five Detailed Examinations

The medical delegates on the mission carried out detailed examination of five persons alleging maltreatment. In four of these cases medical reports by doctors who examined the persons concerned during their detention in police sustody or shortly after their release were also available to the mission.

Method of Examination

Each examination was carried out by the two medical delegates. The methods used have been developed on the basis of experience in examination of alleged torture victims from various countries. Each examination took three to five hours and consisted of an interview section with:

a)

Establishment of a detailed personal history

b)

Physical examination, including neurological examination

c)

Psychiatric assessment

d)

Test for cerebral asthenopia. This text can be used in the diagnosis of organic cerebral damage or disease. This was used on only two of the five individuals.

The medical delegates had no ‘‘control group’’ in these examinations as they did not examine any person from Northern Ireland who had not alleged maltreatment and did not examine any person who had not been arrested. To a certain degree, however, the individuals examined acted as their own "control" in that they did not know in advance the types of questions that were to be asked or the significance of other tests made during the examination; nor did they know the significance of symptoms they described as having occurred after their alleged maltreatment, and their accounts of their earlier personal history. (However, in order for the detailed examinations to be placed in the context of a ‘‘control group’’, individuals who had been interviewed by the RUC but who had not alleged maltreatment should also be examined using this detailed method.)

The cases were not selected on the basis of the severity of the maltreatment alleged, but on the basis of sex, geography and section of the community, as being representative of the total sample of cases examined by the mission.

In three of the five cases considered, the medical delegates found that there was consistency between some or all of the allegations of maltreatment, and the signs and symptoms described in reports of medical examinations. In two of the cases the medical delegates found consistency between the maltreatment alleged and signs and symptoms present at the time of their detailed examination of the complainants. In one case, the medical delegates felt that the consistency between the signs and symptoms present at the time of the detailed examination and the maltreatment alleged, while not in itself conclusive, still strongly corroborated the case that maltreatment had taken place, when viewed in connection with the other medical evidence available. In one case, where the patient had developed a psychosis, the medical delegates found that it was unlikely that this psychological state could have developed had the maltreatment alleged not taken place. In one case, the detailed examination was inconclusive. In all, the medical delegates were able to conclude in three of the five cases that all the available evidence, including the results of the detailed examinations, strongly corroborated the case that maltreatment had taken place.


Summary of Findings:

1)

There is a high degree of consistency among testimonials from numerous individuals belonging to different sections of the community as to methods used in alleged maltreatment.

 

 

2)

In the majority of cases, in which medical evidence was available to the mission, there was consistency between the signs and symptoms noted in that evidence, and the allegations of maltreatment which were either mentioned in the medical evidence, or reported to the mission delegates during interview, or both.

 

 

3)

In a few cases evidence of self-inflicted injuries was found. In most of such cases interviewed by the mission the person in question volunteered the information that they had inflicted such injuries on themselves as a means of terminating their interrogation - e.g. by being taken to hospital. Doctors to whom the medical delegates spoke confirmed that in their experience the simulation of injuries for the purpose of defaming the police was very rare.

 

 

4)

In the detailed interviews the medical delegates asked a number of non-leading questions concerning symptoms. Descriptions by persons interviewed by the mission of their reactions immediately following maltreatment were similar in a large number of cases. Answers were in some cases analagous to accounts given by alleged torture victims to previous AT investigations using the same detailed method, carried out in other countries.

Publication Contents


CHAPTER IV

The Law

Three aspects of the legal situation in Northern Ireland have a direct bearing on the allegations of maltreatment described in the previous chapter: the procedure for arrest and detention, including provision for access to persons in police custody; the legislation and practice in regard to admissibility of statements made by individuals charged with scheduled offences; and the machinery for investigating complaints against the police of assault during interview.

Arrest and Detention

Under the Emergency Provisions Act 1973 and the Prevention of Terrorism Act 1976, suspected terrorists may be held for up to 72 and 48 hours, respectively. Under the Prevention of Terrorism Act a suspect may be held for a further five days if the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland issues an extension order.

After arrest under either act, immediate re-arrest under the other act is unlawful.

The army has been given very wide powers of arrest without warrant, but can hold a suspect for a maximum of four hours only.

It is virtually impossible to challenge an arrest under the Emergency Legislation.

In most of the 78 cases examined by the delegates, and on which data regarding length of detention was available, suspects were held for the full three days under the Emergency Provisions Act, or had been held for an extended period after an arrest under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (See also Annexe I).

Access to Solicitors and other outside persons

The following principle, referred to in the preamble to the Judges Rules[1] is unaffected by the emergency legislation.

"(c) That every person at any stage of an investigation should be able to communicate and to consult privately with a solicitor. This is even so if he is in custody provided that in such a case no unreasonable delay or hindrance is caused to the process of investigation or the administration of justice by his doing so."

Lawton LJ delivering the judgement of the court in R. v. Lemsatef (1977) 2 All ER 835 and 840, stated: "This court wishes to stress that it is not a good reason for refusing to allow a suspect, under arrest or detention, to see his solicitor, that he has not yet made any oral or written admission".

None of the 78 persons whose cases were examined by the mission was allowed to see a solicitor during their period in police custody; in most of these cases it was stated specifically that the arrested person requested a solicitor soon after arrest. The mission found that in Northern Ireland denial of access to solicitors to persons arrested under the provisions of emergency legislation is standard practice.

Formally, it is the investigating officer who decides in each case whether access to a solicitor would cause unreasonable delay or hindrance.., to the process of investigation or the administration of justice". But it appears that in Northern Ireland, in cases of arrests under emergency legislation, it is held that access to a solicitor is of itself such a hindrance.

The apparent decision, not based upon any consideration of the case in question, never to allow suspects arrested under the emergency legislation access to a solicitor while in police custody is in breach of a fundamental principle of common law. It gives rise to an inference, whether or not justified, that not all statements are made voluntarily.

A group of solicitors, stating to Amnesty International that between them they "probably do over 90% of all the cases which are giving rise to the present difficulties, and.. .come from all parts of Northern Ireland" approached the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland after a meeting held early in November. They stated their conviction that "ill-treatment of suspects by police officers, with the object of obtaining confessions, is now common practice", and mentioned the denial of access of solicitors to their clients as one of three factors "of extreme importance". (The other factors mentioned, the changes in law relating to the admissibility of statements in court and the complaints procedure will be discussed below).

No legal sanction exists to prevent this breach of a principle of common law. Although denial of access to a solicitor could be a factor that might render a statement inadmissible, the rules on admissibility of statements in the non-jury court have been altered with the effect that even this safeguard has been removed (see below, under Admissibility of statements in evidence in the non-jury courts; Judges’ Rules).

Access by a suspect to his own doctor is allowed under certain restrictions (See Chapter I, page 5). A police doctor is present during the visit and may intervene if leading questions are put. This access was only granted after complaints had been made to the Chief Constable, in the late summer of 1977.

Although the majority of persons whose cases were examined by the mission stated that they saw an outside doctor at some stage during their detention in police custody, in cases of arrest prior to September 1977 they appeared to have had some difficulty in gaining prompt access to an outside doctor.

Twenty-six of the 39 persons on whom the mission examined medical reports were arrested before September 1977 (the majority between February and August 1977). Seventeen of these persons alleged that they did not see an outside doctor until at least the third day of detention and in many of the cases not until later than this: eight of them, including four persons detained for the full seven days, said they did not see an outside doctor until after their release from police custody - -in at least one of these latter cases the doctor himself stated in his report that he went to the police station twice at the request of the family but was told- by the police that the person under arrest did not need, and had not asked for, an examination (the arrested person states in his affidavit that he asked for his doctor several times). In at least two other cases it was stated that early attempts by doctors to gain access were refused by the police and the doctors admitted only on the fourth and fifth days of detention respectively; in a further two cases the arrested persons own doctors were unable to come at the time requested. In five cases there is no information regarding the time of the medical examination by an outside doctor.

In September 1977 the Chief Constable of the RUC issued instructions to police stations stating that arrested persons should be allowed to see a doctor of their choice at the request of their solicitor, near relatives or other "genuine representatives". Thirteen of the 39 cases where medical evidence was examined by the mission consisted of persons arrested between August and December 1977, inclusive. Of these 13 cases, six said that they saw an outside doctor soon after, or on the day of, arrest. This was in several cases not their own doctor but another doctor brought in at the request of a solicitor. Three of the 13 persons stated that an outside doctor did not arrive until the evening of the second day of arrest and in two cases it was stated that the doctors were unable to attend until the third day of arrest. Two persons said that they did not see an outside doctor for reasons unknown while detained in the detention centre (in these cases the medical reports examined by the mission are reports of treatment in hospital).

In several cases examined by the delegates, minors had been interrogated without the presence of a parent or guardian, although the Administrative Directions to the Police, circulated with the Judges’ Rules, state that:

"As far as practicable children (whether suspected of crime or not) should only be interviewed in the presence of a parent or guardian, or, in their absence, some person who is not a police officer and is of the same sex as the child."

Thus, in most of the cases examined the arrested persons spent at least the first three days and sometimes longer, in almost total isolation from outside persons, and in every case access to a solicitor was denied. This isolation from outside persons such as lawyers and members of their families may make it subsequently difficult for the courts to arrive at a fair judgement of the detained person’s allegations of maltreatment and police denials.

Footnote:
[1] The Judges’ Rules were drawn up to give guidance to police officers engaged in the investigation of crime. They were first drawn up by the judges of the Kings Bench Division between 1912 and 1918; the Rules applicable in Northern Ireland at present are those issued in a Home Office circular in 1964.


Admissibility of statements in evidence in the non-jury courts; Judges’ Rules

Most of the persons whose cases were examined by the mission alleged that the maltreatment described in Chapter III was undertaken in order to induce them to make self-incriminating statements or confessions. The need for the RUC to obtain confessions has already been mentioned (Chapter I, page 2) and is reflected in the very high number of persons who are convicted on the basis of their own self-incriminating statements. The suspicion that led to the arrest of a person is often based on intelligence information that cannot be used as evidence in court.

The police in Northern Ireland are instructed to follow the 1964 Judges’ Rules and administrative directions when interrogating and taking statements from persons suspected of being involved in crimes and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, in replying in late 1977 to a letter by the group of solicitors who expressed their concern, stated that the Judges’ Rules "apply equally to Northern Ireland as they do throughout England and Wales".

However, the Judges’ Rules do not purport "to control or in any way initiate or supervise police activities or conduct". They explain "to police officers engaged in the investigation of crime the conditions under which the courts would be likely to admit in evidence statements made by persons suspected of or charged with crime, and to ensure that any statement tendered in evidence should be a purely voluntary statement and therefore admissible".

At Common Law:

"it has always been a fundamental principle of the courts, and something quite apart from the Judges’ Rules of Practice, that a prisoner’s confession outside the court is only admissible if it is voluntary." (R. v Smith (1959) 2q.B. 35; viz. also: Ibrahim v. R. (1914) A.C. 599; R. v. Richards (1967) 1 W.L.R. 653).

The Judges’ Rules are construed within the following overriding principle:

"That is a fundamental condition of the admissibility in evidence against any person, equally of any oral answer given by that person to a question put by a police officer and of any statement made by that person, that it shall have been voluntary, in the sense that it has not been obtained ‘from him by fear of prejudice or hope of advantage, exercised or held out by a person in authority or by oppression."

The Judges continue:

"The principle set out in paragraph (e) above is overriding and applicable in all cases. Within that principle the following Rules are put forward as a guide to police officers conducting investigations. Non-conformity with these Rules may render answers and statements liable to be excluded from evidence in subsequent criminal proceedings."

In applying the Judges’ Rules the courts have a discretion, but once it has been established that a statement was not made voluntarily, they must exclude the statement. The normal test is that a statement should not have been obtained "by fear of prejudice or hope of advantage, exercised or held out by a person in authority, or by oppression". The circumstances that may constitute oppression are many, such as the length and number of interviews, the period in between, refreshment, etc., and also depend on the characteristics of the person who makes the statement (viz. Sachs J. in R. v. Priestley (1956) 51 Cr. App. Rep. 1).

In Northern Ireland terrorist offences are tried in non-jury courts before a single judge. In such cases the rules governing the admissibility of statements have been changed and much is now admissible that previously must have been excluded. Section 6 of the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1973 provides:

"6. (1) In any criminal proceedings for a scheduled offence a statement made by the accused may be given in evidence by the prosecution insofar as it is relevant to any matter in issue on the proceedings and is not excluded by the court in pursuance of subsection (2) below.

(2) If, in any such proceedings where the prosecution proposes to give in evidence a statement made by the accused, prima facie evidence is adduced that the accused was subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment in order to induce him to make the statement, the court shall, unless the prosecution satisfies them that the statement was not so obtained, exclude the statement or, if it has been received in evidence, shall either continue the trial disregarding the statement or direct that the trial shall be restarted before a differently constituted court (before whom the statement in question shall be inadmissible)."

Although therefore oppressive questioning is still contrary to avowed police policy, the sanction of exclusion of confessions so obtained has been removed in certain cases and the prosecution no longer has to prove that the statements tendered in evidence were made voluntarily.

It should be pointed out that it was exactly this sanction that caused the Judges to draw up the Judges’ Rules. Even the limited protection of the Rules has therefore been nullified.

As has been mentioned, a majority of the convictions in the non-jury courts are based on a confession. In cases relevant to this report arguments centre on whether injuries sustained in police custody were due to maltreatment of a suspect by the police or were self-inflicted.

The onus of proof for the defense is to adduce prima facie evidence that a statement was obtained as a result of treatment contrary to section 6 of the Emergency Provisions Act, The Crown can then rebut this only by proving beyond reasonable doubt that the statement was not so obtained. The last is in line with the normal standard of proof required of the prosecution in voir dire[1] cases related to confessions (viz. Cross, On Evidence, 4th ed., pp. 64-65).

A statement, once admitted, is not incontrovertible evidence.

The mission was informed by the authorities that:

"It would still be open to the accused to deny the truth of the statement, to give evidence as to the circumstances in which the statement was made, or otherwise demonstrate that no weight should be attached to it. All of this might be directed at establishing either that his alleged statement had not been made, or that, if it had, no reliance should be placed on it because of the way in which it has been obtained. After all the evidence it would be for the judge to decide whether the statement had been made, and, if so, what weight he should place on it in reaching his judgement.

It is normally the jury that decides upon these matters. In the words of Lord Parker, C.J.:

"The position now is that the admissibility (of a confession) is a matter for the judge; that it is thereafter unnecessary to leave the same matters to the jury; but that the jury should be told that what weight they attach to the confession depends upon all the circumstances in which it was taken, and that it is their right to give such weight to it as they think fit." (1968, 2 Q.B. 112, at p. 117-118, quoted by Cross, p. 63.)

Cross goes on to remark:

"Trials within the trial are...something of an unreality in cases tried before Magistrates because the question of admissibility has to be determined by the same tribunal as that which pronounces on liability.

The same applies to non-jury courts in Northern Ireland, but of course the scheduled offences are much more serious than summary offences.

No case has been brought to Amnesty International’s attention where an accused was acquitted though his confession was ruled admissible. In cases where a confession is the only evidence tendered by the prosecution and challenged by the defence as obtained contrary to section 6, the voir dire case is in fact the only real issue.

It was pointed out to the delegates that the courts have retained a discretion to exclude a confession if the admission of it in evidence would operate unfairly against the accused. The existence of this judicial discretion was restated by Lord Justice McConigal in R. v. McCormick and others in a judgement delivered on 19 May 1977, (1977) N I. 4.

This does not however mean that the judges will use their discretion in the same way in the non-jury court where section 6 is applicable, as they would in a normal criminal court in applying the Judges’ Rules.

Indeed it is clear from the Diplock Report[2] that the introduction of section 6 should serve explicitly to change law and practice regarding the admissibility of statements:

"We consider that the detailed technical rules and practice as to the ‘admissibility’ of inculpatory statements by the accused as they are currently applied in Northern Ireland are hampering the course of justice in the case of terrorist crimes and compelling the authorities responsible for public order and safety to resort to detention in a significant number of cases which could otherwise be dealt with both effectively and fairly by trial in a court of law." (paragraph 87).

The Lord Chief Justice, after confirming that "there is always a discretion, unless it is expressly removed, to exclude any admissible evidence on the ground that (by reason of any given circumstance) its prejudicial effect outweighs its probative value and that to admit the evidence would not be in the interest of justice", stated this unequivocally in R. v. Corey and others (delivered 6 December 1973)

"Accordingly, section 6(2) would merely be a statement of the obvious if it did not, in conjunction with section 6 (1) render admissible much that previously must have been excluded. There is no need now to satisfy the judge that a statement is voluntary in the sometimes technical sense which that word has acquired in relation to criminal trials."

In a judgement delivered on May 19, 1977 (R. v. McCormick and others (1977) NI.4) McGonigal L.J. discussed section 6 extensively. This case deserves examination in some detail.

The judge states that Parliament in using the words ‘torture, inhuman and degrading treatment’ in section 6, "was impliedly permitting or overlooking conduct of a lesser degree which could still be objectionable and indeed even of a grave degree so long as not carried out for the purpose of inducing a statement even though that might be the effect of it"

Referring to the case of the Republic of Ireland against the United Kingdom and the Greek case, he concludes that:

"the meaning assigned to the terms by the European Commission on Human Rights is, at the least, of very persuasive effect, if not definitive, in determining the meaning to be given to these same terms as used in Section 6."

He quotes the Commission as follows (Ireland against the United Kingdom, p. 377):

"Finally, the Commission distinguished in the Greek Case between acts prohibited by Article 3 and what it called ‘a certain roughness of treatment’. The Commission considered that such roughness was tolerated by most detainees and even taken for granted. It ‘may take the form of slaps or blows of the hand on the head or face. This underlines the fact that the point up to which prisoners and the public may accept physical violence as being neither cruel nor excessive varies between different societies and even between different sections of them’. (Yearbook 12, The Greek Case, p. 501)."

This interpretation of the Convention by the European Commission on Human Rights according to McGonigal L.J.

"appears to accept a degree of physical violence which could never be tolerated by the courts under the common law test and, if the words in section 6 are to be construed in the same sense as the words used in Article 3, it leaves it open to an interviewer to use a moderate degree of physical maltreatment for the purpose of inducing a person to make a statement."

He concludes:

"It appears to me that this is the way the words must be construed and that that is the effect of the section. A statement which is made is admissible under the section, however induced, unless induced by conduct falling within the descriptive terms ‘ torture, or inhuman or degrading treatment’ in the sense used in the section and it is only excluded by the section even in those three cases if the acts complained of were acts done in order to induce the statement."

He goes on to say:

"That does not mean, however, that these courts will tolerate or permit physical maltreatment of a lesser degree deliberately carried out for the purpose of or which has the effect of inducing a person interviewed to make a statement."

and points to the Judges’ discretionary powers "which provide an extra- statutory control over the means by which statements are induced and obtained."

However,

"If he exercises his discretion without regard to section 6 he will in all probability exclude statements obtained in circumstances not considered by Parliament to warrant exclusion. It would indeed not be difficult to envisage cases of maltreatment falling short of section 6 conduct, which the trial judge could consider would be sufficient to justify the exercise of his discretion. The effect of the exercise of the discretion if unfettered by the existence of section 6 might be, therefore, to negative /sic/ the effect of section 6 and under the guise of the discretionary power have the effect of reinstating the old common law test insofar as it depended on the proof of physical or mental maltreatment. In my opinion the judicial discretion should not be exercised so as to defeat the will of Parliament as expressed in the section. While I do not suggest its exercise should be excluded in a case of maltreatment falling short of section 6 conduct, it should only be exercised in such cases where failure to exercise it might create injustice by admitting a statement which though admissible under the section and relevant on its face was in itself, and I underline the words, suspect by reason of the method by which it was obtained, and by that I do not mean only a method designed and adopted for the purpose of obtaining it, but a method as a result of which it was obtained. This would require consideration not only of the conduct itself but also, and since the effect of any conduct varies according to the individual receiving it, possibly equally important its effect on the individual and whether to use the words of the Commission Report already referred to the maltreatment was such as to drive the individual to act against his will or conscience. It is within these guidelines that it appears to me the judicial discretion should be exercised in cases of physical maltreatment.

The direct reference to the Report of the European Commission on Human Rights fails to note the fundamental difference between the tests applied in national and international law. In order to generate international concern a much greater infringement of a person’s rights and freedom is necessary than would warrant interference by a judge upholding the rule of law on a national level. The interpretation of section 6 given by McGonigal L.J. erodes the protection of suspects from mal-treatment by the police.

The practice of the courts is very difficult to assess -the more so since very few cases are reported. Many points may bear upon the ruling in the voir dire issue - often decisive for the case - such as:

-

whether the accused accepted or refused medical examinations;

-

whether the accused gave evidence of treatment contrary to section 6;

-

whether the Crown argued that the injuries were self-inflicted and, in close connection with that;

-

the impression the accused on the one hand and Crown witnesses on the other made upon the judge.

In some cases, the judge considered that to hold that the injuries were inflicted by the police implied that Crown witnesses were lying and subsequently ruled statements admissible (this occurred, for instance, with relation to one statement in the case just described). But this is a confusion: to exclude a statement because the Crown cannot discharge the onus of proof laid upon it by section 6 is in no way to find that the allegations were true. This is duly recognized in, for instance, R. v. Colm Caughey and Francis Bannon (judgement of Jones, L.J., delivered 17 June 1977).

It would appear, even on the limited evidence available, that the practice of the courts is neither uniform nor consistent.

Section 6, in the above-mentioned interpretation, and in particular if seen in relation to the absence of a jury, reduces procedural safeguards and extends the discretion of the single judge. It enhances the danger that statements obtained by mal-treatment of suspects will be used as evidence in court.

The group of solicitors that approached the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in November 1977 stated that "no other single factor has been more conducive to ill-treatment" than "that section of the Emergency Provisions Act which places on the defence the onus of establishing that a statement was obtained by ‘torture or inhuman or degrading treatment'".

The solicitors in fact considered a total withdrawal from practice in the non-jury courts.

Footnotes:
[1] Voir dire signifies a trial within a trial whose purpose is to determine the truth from two conflicting statements.
[2] Report of the Commission to consider legal procedures to deal with terrorist activities in Northern Ireland, CMND 5185, 1972.


Complaints machinery

The machinery for the handling of complaints against the police in Northern Ireland is elaborate. Although the delegates were impressed by this, they noted that, in respect of allegations of criminal misconduct by police officers -such as assault during interview -the machinery remains deficient in practice.

Complaints against the police can be divided into two categories: those alleging breaches of discipline and those alleging breaches of the criminal law.

Complaints alleging breaches of discipline include most ‘ normal’ complaints against the police, such as minor traffic incidents (not leading to court proceedings), incivility to the public, neglect of duty, irregularity of police procedure and mishandling of property.

"The statistics also show ... that in the vast majority of cases in which disciplinary proceedings were taken against a member of the Force, the proceedings resulted from internal control exercised by senior officers rather than from complaints made by members of the public and the ‘conviction’ rates were high -83% in 1972, 66% in 1973 and 79% in 1974." (The Handling of Complaints against the Police, Report of the Working Party for Northern Ireland, 1976 Cmnd 6475, p. 7).

The investigation of a complaint against a police officer is carried out by a senior officer. The Police Authority, set up by the Police Act (Northern Ireland) 1970, has the duty to keep itself informed as to the manner in which complaints against the members of the police force are dealt with by the Chief Constable. The Authority, and its Complaints Committee in particular, receives details about the handling of each complaint, but does not receive the full complaints file although the Authority itself considers that under the terms of the Police Act (Northern Ireland) 1970 "it is empowered with the right of access to files regarding individual investigations". (The Handling of Complaints against the Police, p. 31.)

The Police (Northern Ireland) Order 1977 provided for the establishment of a Police Complaints Board for Northern Ireland which introduced a further independent element into investigations of complaints alleging breaches of discipline by members of the RUC. The Board is excluded from all matters involving alleged criminal conduct by the police. The Board was not yet fully operational at the time of the delegates ‘ visit to Northern Ireland.

Complaints amounting to allegations of a breach of the criminal law - such as allegations of maltreatment of suspects in police custody - are however treated generally as any other report or allegation of a breach of the criminal law. In these cases, it is the DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions - see Annex II) rather than the Police Authority that scrutinizes the investigation into the complaints, although the Police Authority will be informed of all steps taken.

The DPP has directed the Chief Constable to submit to him a report on the investigation of each complaint alleging a criminal offence by a member of the RUC. He may give directions in each case.

The mission delegates were informed that if a complaint against the police has been made alleging a criminal offence, the complete complaint file will be sent to the DPP. If a prosecution has been brought against the complainant, the complaint file will be joined with the file on the prosecution.

The investigation is conducted by an investigating officer of the Complaints and Discipline Branch of the RUC. The investigating officer will ask for statements and information from the complainant and anyone else who can help to establish the facts. Police officers named or otherwise implicated in the allegations will also be interviewed.

Of major importance in the investigation is Form 38/17(A) and (B) into which all particulars about a suspect are entered by a uniformed policeman from the moment of arrest. It gives particulars about interviews, including the names of the detectives present, medical examinations, etc.

According to the authorities, it is hardly ever difficult to identify the policemen that are alleged to have mal-treated a suspect.

These policemen will be interviewed but, the investigation being one into a criminal matter, they of course have the right to refuse to answer any questions.

In order to bring prosecution, the DPP must be satisfied that it may be proven in court, not only that an offence has been committed, but also -and beyond reasonable doubt -that the offence was committed by the accused. The investigation therefore goes beyond testing the veracity of the allegations; even if ill-treatment is proven, prosecution can only be brought if the guilt of an identifiable policeman may be established beyond reasonable doubt.

No matter how thorough the investigation into the complaint -- and there is no proof whatsoever that the investigations by the Complaints and Discipline Board are not thorough -it will be extremely difficult to find conclusive evidence. The DPP is concerned only as to whether or nor there is a case to prosecute, not whether or not complaints can be substantiated.

He does not disclose his reasons for deciding whether or not to bring prosecution. Complainant and Police Authority alike are informed only as to whether or not the DPP has directed prosecution. All cases where the DPP has not directed prosecution are classified "unsubstantiated" - without any reference as to the veracity of the allegations.

The findings of the investigation of the complaint may bear upon the prosecution of the complainant; the files are joined. In a number of cases all charges were dropped in spite of a confession usually sufficient to secure conviction. As the DPP does not give reasons for his decisions, it is difficult to draw any conclusions from this.

The procedures set out above will not, however, reveal cases of maltreatment unless, in the view of the DPP, there is sufficient evidence to warrant prosecution. This asks for a very high standard of proof. The words of Lord Justice-General Cooper (Chalmers v. HMA (1954) JJC 66) are relevant here:

"When he [a person held by the police] stands alone in such a place confronted by several police officers, usually some of high rank, the dice are loaded against him, especially as he knows that there is no one to corroborate him as to what exactly occurred during the interrogation, how it was conducted, and how long it lasted."

Complaints of criminal misconduct which do not result in prosecution are classified "unsubstantiated", even though the maltreatment alleged may be found by the authorities investigating the complaint to have taken place.


Summary of findings

Changes in the law relating to arrest, detention and the admissibility of statements in court have combined to reduce safeguards against improper police conduct.

Powers of arrest and detention have been extended and are virtually unchallengeable. The investigation is conducted in an atmosphere of seclusion, aggravated by extended powers of police detention. Access to solicitors is denied as an apparent matter of policy, giving rise to an inference, whether or not justified, that not all statements are made voluntarily.

The reduction of procedural safeguards regarding the admissibility of statements, the extension of the discretion of the single judge and the absence of a jury enhance the danger that statements obtained by maltreatment of suspects will be used as evidence in court.

The procedure for handling complaints alleging a breach of the criminal law by the police will not disclose all cases of maltreatment. Complaints alleging maltreatment in police custody may be classified "unsubstantiated", though the maltreatment alleged may actually have taken place.

Publication Contents


ANNEX I

Eleven sample cases in which medical evidence was available, but who were not interviewed by the mission.

Case No. 56

Male, arrested 1977 and detained at Castlereagh Holding Centre for three days, then transferred to Crumlin Road Jail. Had a medical examination on arrival at Castlereagh by police doctor ill, who also examined him during his detention in Castlereagh and on his release.

Maltreatment alleged: general beating, especially beating on the back of the head and in the stomach, kicking, grabbing around the throat, hairs on the chest pulled out, slapping on the testicles, hard blow in the eye with a fist.

No information about symptoms.

Medical report: by Dr. O1, the patient s own doctor. Examination in Crumlin Road Jail.

Signs: a large bruise on anterior chest wall. A slight blackening of the right eye (fading). Two small bruises on the right forearm. Bruise on the medial aspect of the left knee. No obvious depilation.

Conclusion: There is consistency between the alleged maltreatment and the signs except on one point: there was no observation of depilation. There are three reports on this individual by police doctor H1, and it would be of great value to have these reports in order to compare them with the report made by the patient's own doctor.


Case No. 62

Male, arrested 1977 and brought to Castlereagh Holding Centre, and detained for three days before being released without charge. Had a medical examination by a police doctor on arrival at Castlereagh and during his detention there. No information as to whether he had a medical examination by a police doctor on release, but on the day of release he was examined by his own doctor, Dr. C1.

Maltreatment alleged: beating in face, stomach and head. Bending of wrists, bending of arm against his back, being thrown against a wall, choking to the extent that he became unconscious, hair-pulling.

Symptoms (immediate): pain in his throat and all over his body. (Later): anxiety and nervousness.

Medical report: by Dr. Cl. Examination on the day of release.

Signs: haematoma involving the pinna of the left ear, traumatic perforation of the left eardrum with blood staining in the auditory canal. Several bruises: over the left sternomastoid muscle, left shoulder tip, right forehead, left eyelid surrounding area, right trapezoid muscle, right shoulder, on the back, right elbow, left elbow, tenth rib in the left side on the sternal end, ninth rib at sternal end, upper abdomen (size 10 x 5 cm.) and below left knee.

Conclusion: There is consistency between the alleged maltreatment and the signs. It would be of great value to compare the above with the police doctor’s report.


Case No. 64

Male, arrested 1977 and brought to Castlereagh Holding Centre. No information about length of detention or charge. He was offered a medical examination by a police doctor on arrival at Castlereagh, but refused. He had a medical examination by a doctor brought in at the request of his solicitor during his detention in Castlereagh. It is not known whether or not he had a medical examination on release.

Maltreatment alleged: general beating for l½ hours, especially on the jaws.

Symptoms: no information.

Medical report: by Dr. O1, examination during his stay in Castlereagh.

Signs: none.

Conclusion: In the view of the mission it is unlikely that 1½ hours of general beating would leave no sign of bruises. There is therefore inconsistency between the history and the signs.


Case No. 67

Male. He was arrested in 1977 and brought to Cookstown RUC station, where he was detained for seven days. He was then released, but later was arrested again and is now in prison awaiting trial. He had medical examinations by a police doctor on arrival at the detention center, during his stay in the detention center, and on release.

Maltreatment alleged: hairpulling, general beating, direct head trauma, kicking, especially in the testicles. Interrogators trod on his fingers while he was lying on the floor and stood on his back. Bending of wrists. Physically exhausting procedures. He alleged that he had been lifted up bodily by his ears, had teeth knocked out, had a cola liquid poured into his ears and that a plastic bag was placed over his head until he passed out.

Symptoms (during detention): he alleged that he became unconscious several times. (Later): anxiety, sleep disturbance, fear of assassination.

Medical report: No. 1 by Dr. V1, examination during his detention. No. 2 by Dr Xl (psychiatrist).

Signs: No. 1: physical and mental distress. Loss of hair over both tempora parietal regions of the head. Different areas of bruising. Limitation of flexing and extending the spine. Enlarged painful right testis. No. 2: severe anxiety traits; the conclusion of the psychiatrist was that the patient was in a state of anxiety.

Conclusion: No. 1: consistency between the alleged maltreatment and the signs, with the exception that there was no note of any observation of dental damage. No. 2: consistency between the history and the signs. It would be of great value to compare the above medical reports with those of the police doctor.


Case No. 68

Male, arrested in 1977 and brought to Castlereagh Holding Centre. Length of detention three days. Had a medical examination by a police doctor on arrival at Castlereagh and by his own doctor on third (i.e., last) day of detention. No information about other medical examinations during his detention in Castlereagh, and no information about medical examination on or after departure from Castlereagh.

Maltreatment alleged: physically exhausting procedures, intimidation: the light was switched on and off, and while in the dark he was thrown around the room. Beaten on the mouth with fists. One interrogator jumped on his body while he was on the floor. Hairpulling. Beating on the ears, jaw, neck and stomach. Systematic beating on head. Threats to bring his father to Castlereagh for interrogation. Threats to kill him. His head was held under water in a sink three times. Threats of having his fingernails pulled out.

Symptoms: no information.

Medical report: by Dr. G1, his own doctor, (examination the day he was detained).

Signs: erythematous area and abrasions and bleeding localised to the scalp at the hair roots, bruises localised to anterior border of left sterno mastoid muscle at the level of the thyroid cartilage in front of and behind ear. Haematoma over the whole left ear. Traumatic perforation of the left eardrum with fresh blood into auditory canal. Six thumbsized bruises on abdomen.

Conclusion: There is consistency between the alleged maltreatment and the signs, except that there was no note of signs possibly relating to beating on the mouth. It would be of great value to compare the medical report mentioned above with that of the police doctor.


Case No. 72

Male, arrested 1977 and brought to Castlereagh Holding Centre. Detained for seven days and then transferred to Crumlin Road Jail. No information about medical examination on arrival at detention center. He was seen by his own doctor several times during his detention in Castlereagh. No information about medical examination by a police doctor when he left Castlereagh.

Maltreatment alleged: physically exhausting procedures. Was thrown against a wall. General beating. Bending of wrists and arms, Hairpulling. Choking, plastic bag placed over his head, threats to kill him, threats of further beatings.

Symptoms: no information.

Medical report: the patient s own doctor, Dr. Z1, examined him three times during his detention in Castlereagh; the day of his arrival, three days later and five days later. He was examined by Dr. Z1 for the fourth time after he had been taken from Castlereagh to Town Hall police station to be charged.

Signs: during the first three examinations the patient did not remove his clothes for examination because he made no complaint to Dr. Z1. The medical report noted on these occasions that he looked tired and pale. On the last examination, which took place just after expiration of his detention in Castlereagh, four big bruise marks were found on his chest, in the inner aspect of both elbows, on his back and on the inner aspect of the right arm. It was Dr. Z1 ‘s opinion that these bruises were at least three days old.

Conclusion: There is consistency between the alleged maltreatment and the signs.

Special remarks: The mission did not examine the patient, but the medical delegates interviewed his doctor, Dr. Z1, who stated that on the first three examinations the patient had denied having been subjected to any sort of maltreatment because he was afraid that if he made a complaint he would receive more severe treatment. He allowed the doctor to examine him thoroughly only when his detention in police custody was about to expire after seven days. It would be particularly valuable to see the police doctor’s report in this case, since Dr. Z1 told the mission that he examined Case 72 on the fourth occasion at the request of the police doctor.


Case No. 74

Male, arrested 1977 and brought to Castlereagh Holding Centre. Detained for three days and then released without charge. No information about medical examination on arrival at the detention center. He had medical examinations by police doctors during his stay at Castlereagh and on release, and by Dr. Dl, two days after his release from police custody.

Maltreatment alleged: physically exhausting procedures. General beating. Finger pressure under the ears. Was spun round and round, head banged against a wall. Threats to kill him. One of the interrogators rode on his back as if he were a horse and forced him to count holes in the wall. One of the interrogators forced him to eat mucus from his (the interrogator’s) nose. Interrogators spat in his face.

Symptoms: patient stated that while he was in Castlereagh he was mentally unbalanced to the extent that he tried to hang himself, but without success.

Medical report: by Dr. Dl, two days after his release from Castlereagh.

Signs: twelve bruise marks spread over chest, back, left hip, left upper arm, right leg. Tender in epigastrium. Mentally very nervous and agitated.

Conclusion: There is consistency between the alleged maltreatment and the signs. It would be of great value to compare the report of Dr. Dl with the police doctor’s reports.


Case No. 76

Male, arrested 1977 and brought to Omagh RUC Station. No information about length of detention or charge. No information about medical examination on arrival at the detention center, had medical examination by doctor C2 during his stay in the center. No information about medical examination on release from detention center.

Maltreatment alleged: hairpulling. Beating. Kicking. Choking. Slapping in the face.

Symptoms (immediate): headache and pains all over the body.

Medical report: by Dr. C2, who examined him in the detention center.

Signs: pale, exhausted. Bruise marks on the right upper arm and beneath the left papilla mamma. Tender in the back of his head, in the neck, in the left kidney region and on the calf.

Conclusions: There is consistency between the alleged maltreament and the signs. The medical report is a rather short one, and there is no information given regarding the mental state of the patient. However, the medical delegates had a personal interview with Dr. C2.


Case No. 83

Male, arrested 1977 and brought to the Newcastle RUC Station; later transferred to Bessbrook RUC Station. Alleged maltreatment in both detention centers. Detained for four days, then released without charge. Had a medical examination on arrival at the Newcastle RUC Station and also on arrival at Bessbrook RUC Station. During his detention at Bessbrook, he had medical examinations by two different doctors. He had a medical examination before he left the Newcastle RUC Station. No information regarding any medical examination before release from Bessbrook.

Maltreatment alleged: general beating, physically exhausting procedures, hairpulling, direct trauma to the head: karate chops on the back of his head. Threats.

Symptoms (immediate): nausea, unable to think, unable to sleep, pains all over but especially in the area of the 10th and 11th ribs. Alleges that when he received a karate chop on the back of his head he "saw stars". (Later): insomnia, fear, inability to work.

Medical report: On examinations by Dr. D2, No. 1 while still detained, No. 2 the day he was released from detention center and No. 3 six months later.

Signs: on first examination in detention center, was shivering and frightened. Was easily annoyed and obviously reactively depressed. B/p low, 100/60. Pulse normal. Had clinical signs of fracture of 10th and 11th ribs. A bruise mark over right buttock. A bruise on right back, but not necessarily new. Tenderness in the epigastric area. Urine contained albumen and acetone. Dr. D2 explained the albuminuria as orthostatic, provoked by a long time standing in erect posture with lordosis of the lumbar spine.

On second examination, the day he was released: had no albuminuria, but very shaky and had all the signs mentioned above.

On third examination, six months later: somewhat better, but still showed some mental disturbances. It should be added that Dr. D2 had known this man for 15 years before his detention and asserts that he had always been completely healthy and mentally normal.

Conclusion: There is consistency between alleged maltreatment and the signs. We would add that the proteinuria, as explained by Dr. D2, may also have been provoked by physically exhausting procedures such as those the patient alleged.

The complainant was examined by police doctor T2 and it would be of great value to compare the reports.


Case No. 66

Male, arrested 1977 and taken to Castlereagh Holding Centre. Held one day in Castlereagh and then transferred to jail. No information about medical examination on arrival at Castlereagh, during his stay there or on release. He had a medical examination two days after arrest.

Maltreatment alleged: pushed, slapped, punched in the face, abdomen and testicles.

Symptoms: no information.

Medical reports: by Dr U1, on examination two days after his arrest.

Signs: abrasions below and anterior to the left ear. Linear abrasion below angle of left eye. Swelling below nasal bone and soft tissue of his nose. Small erythema area over upper end of anterior part of pelvis. Erythema areas above left superficial inguinal injury.

Conclusion: There is consistency between the alleged maltreatment and the signs. If a police doctor’s report exists, it would be of great value to compare it with that of Dr. Ul.


Case No. 71

Male, arrested 1977, then brought to Castlereagh Holding Centre. Detained four days, then transferred to Crumlin Road Jail. Had a medical examination on arrival at Castlereagh and also during his stay there. No information about medical examination on release.

Maltreatment alleged: threats, beating, hairpulling, direct trauma to the head, head banged against a wall. Kicking. Thrown to the floor, one of the interrogators jumped on his back. Choking. Penis and testicles twisted. Beaten in kidney area and on his back with a chair.

Symptoms: no first hand information, but a relative has stated that he had difficulties moving and was nervous and shaking.

Medical reports: by Dr. Yl, examinations the day he arrived at the detention center (1) and two days later (2).

Signs: (1): no signs. (2): bruises on the face, heels and across his shoulder blades and upper back and neck. Tenderness on palpation in the stomach, throat, clavicula and right lower leg. An area of tenderness and swelling localised to the right bursa sub patellaris. Bruises on the right upper arm. Tenderness in the scalp.

Conclusion: There is consistency between the alleged maltreatment and the signs. It would be of great interest to compare Dr. Yl ‘s report with the police doctor’s report.

Publication Contents


ANNEX II

The cases of nine persons who were interviewed by the mission and in which medical evidence was available to the mission.

Case No. 1

Male. Arrested in 1977 and interrogated in Castlereagh Holding Centre, where he was held for three days. There is no information about a medical examination on arrival at the detention center. During his detention in Castlereagh, he was examined by Dr. A1.

Maltreatment alleged: severe beating on the head and stomach. Hair pulled out, severe finger pressure in the premastoidal area and was lifted up in that way. During application of finger pressure was threatened that the fingers would go through his brain. Forced to count the holes in the wall. Forced to sit on a chair with his feet under radiator pipe while being beaten in stomach. While he was standing spread-eagled with fingertips against the wall, one of the detectives feigned to kick him in the testicles.

Symptoms (immediate): fear, shaking, stammering; broke down, mentally.

Medical report: from Dr. A1, examination in detention center.

Signs: tender area in the left regio occipitalis, tender in both regio mastoidei. Tender in upper arms and epigastrium. Mentally extremely nervous, anxious, shaking, stammering and in need of immediate psychiatric examination.

Conclusion: There is consistency between the alleged maltreatment and the signs.


Case No. 2

Male. Arrested in 1977 and brought to Magherafelt RUC Station, where he was held for 5 or 6 hours. He was not interrogated there but was examined by a police doctor on admission and before release. He was then taken to Castlereagh Holding Centre for interrogation, where he was held for three days. He was subsequently released without charge. He was examined by a doctor on arrival at Castlereagh and during his detention. There is no information about medical examination on release.

Maltreatment alleged: beating with hands and with the wooden shaft of a brush, direct beating to the head. Kicking. The interrogator stood on his feet. Physically exhausting procedures. Was forced to sit on a chair with his feet under a radiator pipe and then lean backwards until his head was almost touching the ground. Forced to hold arms over his head. Threatened with choking and with electric shocks. Flicked on the testicles.

Symptoms: no information.

Medical report: by Dr. B1, examination in detention center.

Signs: bruises in the epigastrium and thorax. Abrasion on the side of his forehead. Tenderness on his left shoulder and left upper arm.

Conclusions: There is consistency between the alleged maltreatment and the signs. It would be of great value to compare the medical report of Dr. B1 with the medical report of the police doctor.


Case No. 4

Male. Arrested in 1977 and brought to Castlereagh Holding Centre, where he was held for three days, and then released without charge. He refused a medical examination on arrival at Castlereagh. He was examined during his detention and on release by a police doctor.

Maltreatment alleged: beating on stomach, ears and directly on his head. Hairpulling. Wrist-bending. Had pressure applied on the veins in the front of his throat for so long that he passed out. Threats to his life and his family.

Symptoms: primarily he complained of pains. He also claimed at a medical examination one day after his release that he had decreased hearing in his left ear with constant tinnitus. The last-mentioned was still a symptom at the interview with A1’s medical delegates in December 1977.

Medical report: by Dr. C1, examination one day after release.

Signs: bruises on the right side of his forehead, the 2nd and 3rd left rib the epigastrium, the left renal region, the left elbow. Tenderness of the muscles of the neck.

Otoscopy: the left tympanic membrane was red and congested, and there was blood-clotting present. There was recent central perforation of the membrane.

Conclusion: There is consistency between the alleged maltreatment and the signs. It would be of great value to compare the report made by Dr. C1 with those made by the police doctor.


Case No. 5

Male. Arrested in 1977 and brought to Fort Monagh (army barracks) and later to Castlereagh Holding Centre. Total length of detention was four days, and he was subsequently released without charge. He had a medical examination by a police doctor on arrival at Castlereagh, and he was examined during his detention and also on his release from Castlereagh.

Maltreatment alleged: alleged that he had been maltreated by military personnel after arrest and also by plain-clothes RUC personnel at Castlereagh. General beating, kicking, punching, hairpulling, soldiers sat on him and jumped on him, especially on his back. Sandpaper rubbed into his back, direct trauma to his head by beating and wall-banging. Partial choking. Threats that he would be killed.

Symptoms (immediate): for a short time he became unconscious, had dizziness, fever and pains. (At the time of the Al mission interview): nervousness, irritability and sleep disturbances.

Medical report: examined three times by general practitioner Dr. Dl. The first examination was on the day he was arrested, the second was two days later, and the third was three days after he was arrested. He was also examined after his release from detention.

Signs: at the first examination: extremely severe bruises all over his body, ankles swollen to twice the normal size, severe friction burns on left shoulder and lower back. At the second examination: fever and inflammation of the right eardrum, as well as the signs recorded on the first examination. At the third examination there were no new signs, and the previously-mentioned signs were fading.

Conclusion: There is consistency between the alleged maltreatment and the signs. It should be added that police doctors Dr. El and Dr. Fl were together with Dr. Dl during his examination of this man. It would be of great value to have their reports on this case in order to compare them with the reports of Dr. Dl. A number of coloured photographs of this person taken on the day of his release from Castlereagh are in the possession of AI. They show many severe haematomas and bruises all over the body.

According to this man’s own allegations, he was injured by military personnel before he was brought to Castlereagh Detention Centre. It should be noted that his own doctor found signs during the patient’s detention at Castlereagh which he had not found on previous examination of the patient shortly after his arrival at Castlereagh, which is consistent with this man’s allegations of maltreatment at Castlereagh. It would, however, be of great value to see the police doctor’s report of his examination of this man on arrival at Castlereagh, and the police doctor’s subsequent reports in this case.


Case No. 6

Male. Arrested in 1977 and brought to Castlereagh Holding Centre, where he was detained for five days. He was then charged and was detained on remand in Crumlin Road Jail for four months awaiting trial. At the end of this period all charges against him were dropped and he was released. He had medical examinations on arrival at Castlereagh Detention Centre, during his stay there and on release. On the second day of his arrest, he was taken to hospital for examination, after which he was returned to Castlereagh for the remaining period of police detention.

Maltreatment alleged: general beating, hairpulling, physically exhausting procedures, threats, kicking, direct trauma to the head, pressure on testicles, beating with a leather strap on the soles of his feet, bending of his arm against his back.

Symptoms (when interviewed by AI delegates): nervous, jumpy, loses his temper easily, concentration bad, sleep interrupted, shaky hands. He told AI delegates that while he was under police arrest in Castlereagh his mental condition was such that he tried to commit suicide by cutting his wrists with a plastic knife.

Medical report: by Dr. C1, who examined him in Castlereagh.

Signs: he was exhausted, tense and nervous. He had very many bruises all over the body, especially on his head. He also had several greater haematomas. There was a linear lesion on his left wrist, which he had inflicted himself.

In addition to the report of Dr. G1, there is a report from a hospital examination one day after he was arrested. The hospital found bruises on his head and signs of nose-bleeding. He had X-ray examination of his jaw. There was no fracture.

Conclusion: There is consistency between alleged maltreatment and the signs, except that there was no note of signs possibly relating to beating on the feet.

A psychiatrist saw him later, but Amnesty International does not have the medical report. Dr. Hl, a police doctor, was present during Dr. G1’s examination. The mission was told that the patient was taken to hospital for X-rays on the second day of his detention at Castlereagh on the recommendation of the police doctor, after examination. It would be of particular value in this case to see the police doctor's reports.


Case No. 7

Male. Arrested in 1977 and brought to Castlereagh Holding Centre, where he was held for five days. He was subsequently released without charge. He had a medical examination by police doctor I1 on arrival at the detention center. He was also examined during his stay in the detention center and on his release.

Maltreatment alleged: general beating, direct trauma to the head, hairpulling, pulling and stretching and bending of wrists, severe beating on the right ear, threats.

Symptoms (immediate): he stated that during the alleged maltreatment he passed out several times, had pains all over his body and lost hearing in his right ear. (Present): nervousness, nightmares, less appetite than previously, irritability.

Medical report: by Dr. J1, examination in detention center.

Signs: some tenderness in right lower quadrant and left upper arm. Signs of bruises on left upper arm. Perforation of right eardrum with signs of fresh blood, seemed "groggy" and confused, and not very coherent.

Conclusion: There is consistency between the alleged maltreatment and the signs. The medical report is very short. It should be added that this case has also been examined by an ear, nose and throat specialist, but the medical report is not available. It would be of great value to have the report from the police doctor, Dr. I1, and the report of the specialist.


Case No. 52

Male. Arrested in 1977 and brought to army barracks in Londonderry and later to Castlereagh Holding Centre. Detention time in Castlereagh was five days, after which he was transferred to Crumlin Road Jail. He was subsequently released on bail awaiting trial. He had a medical examination on arrival at Castlereagh and during his detention there. He told Al delegates that he was not offered a medical examination on leaving the detention center.

Maltreatment alleged (in Castlereagh): general beating, hairpulling, pressing of fingertips behind both ears, kicking the interrogators pressed their knees into his chest, he had direct trauma to his head. Mentally straining procedures: was shown photographs of mutilated bodies. Physically exhausting procedures. Beating, especially on the genitals. One of the interrogators placed a foot on his back while he was lying on the ground and told him to get up. Painful bending of the left arm.

Symptoms (immediate): sleeplessness. At the time of the interview by AI delegates he was edgy and abrupt, said he drank more, was rarely at home, and was afraid of going alone to the local RUC station (to which he has to report once a week as a condition of bail).

Medical report: by Dr. B1, who examined him during detention.

Signs: bruises in the epigastrium. An erythematous area on his back. Abrasion on his left elbow. On his right ear a bruise mark, swelling and tenderness behind the ear.

Conclusion: There is consistency between the alleged maltreatment and the signs except that there was no observation of signs relating to possible beating on the genitals. It should be added that it would have been of value to have the report of Dr. Kl, police doctor, who examined this man on arrival at Gastlereagh.


Case No. 53

Male. Arrested in 1976 and brought to Omagh RUC Station. He was detained for three days, released without charge and then transferred to a hospital. He had a medical examination on arrival in police custody and again on release.

Maltreatment alleged: physically exhausting procedures, beating generally, hairpulling, lifting by his moustache, hair pulled out of his beard, direct trauma to the head, threats.

Symptoms: on arrival at the hospital after police detention: headache and abdominal pain. Three months later: thumping in his head when he got up or bent down and dizzy spells lasting about one minute. If he lifted a heavy weight he experienced white floating spots in both eyes. Nightmares. Periods of depression. Feeling of insecurity.

Medical reports: There are two reports from the hospital. The first one was made on the day he arrived from the detention center. The signs were: some amnesia regarding what had happened during police detention, difficulty in maintaining his balance, especially with his eyes closed, various bruise marks and abrasions, many small red areas in his scalp at the hair roots, the next medical report, three months later: pale ophthalmic fundi.

Conclusion: There is consistency between the alleged maltreatment and the signs, although pale ophthalmic fundi may be a physiological abnormality and there is no note of depilation. There is no medical description of his mental state. Dr. L1 examined case No. 53 while he was in the detention center, but Al does not have the report. It would be of great value to compare the hospital reports with those made by the police doctor and by Dr. L1.


Case No. 54

Male. Arrested in 1977 and taken to Strand Road RUC Station, Londonderry, then to Castlereagh Holding Centre, where he was held for seven days. He was then transferred to prison for seven weeks, after which he was released on bail awaiting trial. He was medically examined on the day of arrest at Strand Road RUC Station. On arrival at Castlereagh he refused an offer of a medical examination by a police doctor. He had a medical examination during his detention in Castlereagh and on leaving Castlereagh.

Maltreatment alleged (in Castlereagh): general beating, kicking, squeezing of testicles, hairpulling, direct trauma to the head, hand burnt against a hot radiator pipe, degrading treatment. His sweater was placed over his head and his trousers pulled down, and the interrogators verbally humiliated him. While he was lying on the ground one of the interrogators stepped on his stomach, on his hands, his shoulders and his ankles. His wrists were both bent and stretched.

Symptoms: immediately after release he was afraid of people, had communication difficulties, sleep disturbances and more frequent migraine attacks. Symptoms when interviewed by the Al delegates: none.

Medical reports: No.1 by Dr. Bl, examination in Castlereagh. No.2 by Dr. M1, examination on his arrival at jail.

Signs: Dr. B1: burning of left hand, first degree, numerous bruise marks on the body and the head, haematoma in the left corner of his mouth, abrasions on thorax and abdomen. Dr. M1: moderate swelling of the left temporo-parietal region. Multiple bruise marks, various abrasions and an area with loss of skin localized to left hand.

Conclusion: There is consistency between the alleged maltreatment and the signs. It has to be added that two police doctors, Drs. N1 and K1, also examined this person, and it would be of great value to compare their reports with those mentioned above.

Publication Contents


ANNEX III

The cases of five persons who were examined in detail by the mission's medical delegates.

Case No. 3

Male. Arrested during the first half of 1977. Detained for four and a half days at Castlereagh Holding Centre and then released without charge. He alleged having been subjected to the following forms of maltreatment:

-

Psychologically exhausting procedures (prolonged oppressive questioning).

-

Physically exhausting procedures (strenuous positions).

-

Threats (of being killed).

-

Beatings (hit in the face and stomach, kicked on the legs and buttocks).

-

Direct beatings on the head.

-

Humiliation (was made to undress, spoken to in a degrading manner, ridiculed especially regarding his genitals, soiled underpants were placed over his head, humiliating remarks were made about his religious beliefs).

-

Attempts to suffocate him.

He claimed to have had the following symptoms immediately after the alleged maltreatment:

-

Tachycardia, chest pain on breathing, coughing with green phlegm

-

Bleeding gums

-

Diarrhoea

-

Pains all over the body, difficulty lifting his arms, pain in the neck, pain on moving the head, pains in stomach and kidney region

-

Bruises on both ears, left medial eye angle, upper part of his left thoracic cage

-

Headache, dizziness, felt he had decreased hearing in his left ear, difficulty in concentrating, short loss of consciousness during interrogation

-

Shaking hands, attacks of "pins and needles" in his hands

-

Visual disturbances: after falling to the floor, he saw a violet colour, obscuring all structures and lasting about 30 seconds.

 

When being hit on the back of the head, and also when he was asked to stare out of the window into daylight, he saw round coloured rainbow-like shapes which grew larger and smaller and changed shape.

-

During interrogation, he visualised things that were not there, for instance, he saw a vision of himself working at his job (this point is difficult to interpret, but the possibility of pseudo- hallucinations cannot be ruled out).

-

Inability to sleep, fear of being killed, exhaustion, felt indifferent towards the people who maltreated him.

He claimed to have had the following symptoms during the period following his detention:

-

For the first few days after release from Castlereagh, he had a recurring feeling of walking upside down. This happened for short periods at a time only but resulted into his bumping into things as he walked.

-

Some sexual problems were disclosed to the medical delegates

-

The cardio-pulmonary symptoms disappeared quickly as did the diarrhoea. He then developed heartburn and belching. Although he had suffered from this before, it was now more common. He also had a rash on his feet. Two weeks after his release a clicking movement developed in the right temporo-mandibular joint of his jaw, but this disappeared about six months after detention. The symptoms relating to the central nervous system continued. He felt a total lack of energy, had difficulty in getting to sleep, his sleep was interrupted and he had frequent night mares. He was frightened, irritable, labile, violent and aggressive. He sought psychiatric help once shortly after release and was prescribed diazepamn and a night sedative.

He told the medical delegates that he still suffered from the following symptoms:

-

Belching and nausea, for which he is taking a parasympatolytic compound.

-

Recurrent headaches localised to the temporal region. They are usually of moderate intensity but have on occasion been more severe. He has difficulty concentrating and finds that his learning ability is decreased. He feels that his hands shake, although this is not evident. He also has attacks of "pins and needles" in his hands accompanied by numbness.

-

He feels that he is mentally changed. He argues with his wife more frequently. He is aggressive, labile, irritable, violent and often hits his children which did not occur previously. He tires easily and has less energy than before, especially for his spare-time functions, although his sleep has now improved. He still has nightmares occasionally. He is not as easygoing as previously. He is often frightened and afraid of being arrested again.

Previous medical examinations

During and immediately after interrogation he was medically examined and signs of bruises were found which were interpreted by the doctor who examined him as being consistent with his description of alleged physical maltreatment. One week after his release, he was seen by a psychiatrist, who found him to be suffering from a stress reaction with severe phobital symptoms which might necessitate treatment at a later date.

Findings of physical examination by the medical delegates

In the physical examination nothing abnormal was found except the bilateral positive Hoffman reflex, which could be a result of his being tense at time of interview. Investigation for cerebral asthenopia showed that on examination with a colourless object for the right eye the horizontal stick became thinner and longer as it moved toward the left. The same examination with the left eye showed a double vision with the other picture just behind and to the left of the first one. Interpreting this test, the medical delegates felt that the fact that the patient was being treated with parasympatolytic drugs at the time would not influence the results as the signs were different for each eye.

Summary of examination by medical delegates

This man was examined some months after a detention of four and a half days during which he alleged that he had been subjected to almost continuous interrogation.

At the time of examination, he complained of heartburn, parietal headache, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, sexual disturbances and vague symptoms from the peripheral nervous system. He said he felt more irritable, emotionally labile, and that he had struck his children on several occasions. He had temporarily stopped taking part in his hobbies. He had nightmares and was often anxious.

Conclusions:

The medical delegates found a positive test for cerebral asthenopia which suggests that he is suffering from some degree of organic brain damage. Considering the length of time between interrogation and interview with the Al mission, it is noteworthy that this person still complained of a number of symptoms which he stated had not been present prior to interrogation. Two medical reports are attached - one is the report made by his doctor immediately after interrogation; the other is a report by a psychiatrist, made shortly after his release.

There is consistency between the allegations of maltreatment and the attached medical reports. There is also consistency between the symptoms described at the interview and the allegations. The detailed examination, which enabled the medical delegates to assess the symptoms described and detect residual signs, strongly corroborates the case that maltreatment took place.

 

Medical Report on Case No. 3 *

Dated during the first half of 1977.

At approximately 4:15 p.m. on the evening of [Day 3] , I examined the above-named person at Castlereagh police station, Belfast, and the police doctor acting on behalf of the R.U.C., Castlereagh, was present. Before examination, [Case No. 3] signed form 38/178 requesting medical examination.

His general appearance was untidy. He was unshaven, his body was sweaty and unwashed. He had difficulty in raising his arms to remove his jumper and shirt. This, he stated, was due to his having been made to stand on his tiptoes with knees semiflexed and his arms held out from his chest for a long period, and also to having been punched on the back of his neck while in custody.

Both ears were badly discoloured with blue bruise marks, the left being worse than the right. There was a small bruise at the corner of the left eye, and there was an area of bruising over the left upper anterior chest wall.

He was quite tender on palpation of the cervical spine, and there was definite limitation in his ability to flex and rotate his head.

On auscultation of his chest, he had some scattered rhonchi due to a chest infection which he had prior to detention and for which a police doctor had given him penbritin, 500 mg four times daily following a medical examination on the day he arrived at Castlereagh.

On examination of his abdomen, there was quite definite tenderness and rigidity on palpation. This, he said, had been due to being punched in the upper abdomen. There were no bruise marks. He also was tender in both kidney areas and both legs, the backs of which, he stated, had been kicked. Examination of the genital area and perineum revealed no abnormalities.

I re-examined [Case No. 3] on [Day 6] . He stated that he had not been assaulted since I saw him, and the bruise mark noticed on his chest had faded quite substantially. The bruise marks to his ears and eye had also become less prominent.

The clinical findings noted above would in my opinion confirm his statement that he had been assaulted while in police custody.

Yours sincerely,

Dr. [S2]

* This medical report, along with all others cited in this annexe, has been rendered anonymous as to names and dates. All other facts remain unchanged. 

 

Psychiatric report on [Case No 3] , made shortly after his release

Dear Dr. [S2],

Re: [Case No. 3]

I saw the above-named at his home a few days after release, and the situation was as follows:

During the first half of 1977, he was arrested one morning at 5:30 a.m. by some men in police and military uniforms coming to the door. The door apparently was kicked and some soldiers said that they were carrying out a search under the Special Powers Act. Some of the police said he was being arrested. Some sheets and a record were taken, but they were subsequently returned. [Case No. 3] was taken into a car and handcuffed but not actually brought into the local police station. He was so flabbergasted he did not ask for the chief inspector, whom he knew. He was taken for interrogation, apparently to the Castlereagh police station, and his watch was removed. There were interrogation sessions lasting for several hours at a time, and one of the sessions went on from apparently 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., apart from a 20-minute break for examination by you. He was provided with food while the interrogation went on. Apparently there was one concentrated session of rough handling from 10 p.m. on Day 1 until 3 or 4 a.m. the following morning. This apparently included being stripped naked, kicked, punched, booted and made to do physical exercises. He was made to lick water from the floor and pick up cigarette butts. Apparently there were more unpleasant threats. At an earlier stage in that particular session, he was made to run up and down the room and told to take down his trousers and run for a while. He was then made to take down his underpants and apparently insulting remarks were made in regard to his manhood. He recalled reference being made to the number of children he had and the size of his genitals.

He recalled that as far as he could make out he did not sleep during the entire ordeal. He was up late at night. He recalled signing the relevant forms stating that he had been abused. He felt that in a way the whole thing seemed more like a novel than a real-life experience.

When I saw him, it was comparatively early after the ordeal, but he had not been back to his job and he related some of his fear to threats by the interrogators. He was apprehensive about the possibility of worse incidents and he had been irritated with his own children. He became tired easily and tended to pace around restlessly. He had become frightened of the security forces and very worried about lights - the street lights outside the house were off on the two nights after he was released. He did not sleep at all the first night after coming out of the center. There had been some improvement in his sleep patterns with the help of night sedation, and he had not experienced nightmares. His voice had become softer than it had been previously, and he had been grinding his teeth. Palpitations, shortness of breath and a slight choking sensation had occurred. The frontal headaches were severe and frequent, and there were also pains at the back of his head and in the neck region. There was some distortion of visual image. He could see white and pink bands behind where his eyes were focussing.

His wife described him as having come home a different man. The whole thing occurred in the setting of his wife having had a baby by caesarean section a few weeks before his arrest (she was only out of hospital a few days before his arrest). He had been particularly kind and attentive to her after she had come home from hospital. She remarked on how irritable he had indeed become with the children (something he himself had mentioned). His eyes, to her, appeared different, displaying a peculiar stare. He became rather more upset after he had been home a couple of days, which would be in keeping with a delayed reaction.

He was pale (apparently paler than he had been previously). He sighed occasionally. His expression was strained. He tended to keep his hands clasped. His pulse rate was 84 per minute.

I would certainly say that as of that stage it was difficult to assess what the long-term pattern of the stress reaction would be. I would say, however, that he ought to stay off his job from four to six weeks in the first instance, unless there is a marked early improvement (which is unlikely). There could be an intensification of symptoms of anxiety in the job situation period. He would prefer to cope without tranquilizers or sedatives, and this he should be able to do unless a more intense delayed reaction develops. The passage of time should be one of the factors in his eventual improvement. If a pattern of intense phobic symptoms is maintained, then a program of desensitization or some other form of behavior therapy could be arranged by our behavior therapist.

Yours sincerely,

Dr. [T2]

 

Case No. 27

Male. Arrested during the latter half of 1977; he had been arrested five times before. He alleged that he had been maltreated during all arrests. It should be added that, in this case, detention itself caused considerable stress to the person involved due to his previous history of arrests. The present report concerns alleged maltreatment during his last arrest. He was held at Castlereagh Holding Centre for two days.

He alleged having been subjected to the following forms of maltreatment during detention:

-

Lifted by the ears

-

Head banged against a wall

-

Kicked and beaten

He claimed to have had the following symptoms immediately after the alleged maltreatment:

-

Disorientation, loss of sense of time

-

Sleep disturbances

-

Loss of voice

-

Depression, with suicidal impulses demonstrated by his jumping into a stairwell at Castlereagh.

After jumping into the stairwell, he was transferred to a local hospital, where he tried to commit suicide by drowning. He was consequently transferred to a psychiatric hospital, where he states he suffered marked auditory and visual hallucinations. He remained in the psychiatric hospital for 12 days. The psychiatrist’s report is attached.

He claimed to have suffered the following symptoms after his release from detention:

Some time after his discharge from the psychiatric hospital, during a search of his home by security forces, he suffered a recurrence of hallucinations.

He told the medical delegates that he still suffered from the following symptoms:

social isolation, increased alcohol consumption, loss of memory, insomnia, anxiety, depression, gastric upset and loss of appetite.

He had detailed plans for suicide in the event of a further arrest.

Summary of findings of detailed examination

The medical delegates found a positive test for cerebral asthenopia, which suggests that Case No. 27 had suffered some degree of organic brain damage and he was found to be emotionally labile, reacting by crying. He was very depressed and self-referring to the point of paranoia. He was diagnosed by the medical delegates to be very close to psychosis.

This man had been detained several times prior to the detention in question. He has apparently been under considerable psychological strain for a long period of time. During the last detention, he became acutely depressed and reactively psychotic with suicide attempts, disorientation, and visual and auditory hallucinations. During the period following this he was, according to the symptoms he described, psychologically more vulnerable, and during a further stress period (the house search) he had a recurrence of hallucinations.

The medical delegates cannot state conclusively that this person would not have developed an acute psychosis without the physical and mental maltreatment alleged, but find it highly unlikely that such a psychosis would have developed during detention had maltreatment, or at least severe psychological pressure, not taken place. It should be noted that the consultant psychiatrist did not find this person to be a vulnerable personality. He did not develop a psychosis during the former five detentions where maltreatment was also alleged.

 

Psychiatric Report on Case No. 27

On [a morning during the latter half of 1977], I was telephoned about this man by a consultant colleague. He had originally seen [Case No. 27]in the R.U.C. detention center in Castlereagh, and, early on the same morning as I was telephoned, the patient was admitted to a local hospital. According to my colleague, the patient was deluded, hallucinated, claims he saw dogs in his room, and in his opinion was suffering from an acute schizophrenic episode.

He was admitted to us about 6 p.m. on that same evening and, according to the note from the local hospital, he had been admitted to them at 6:30 a.m. that morning and at 8:30 a.m. was found submerged in a bath full of water facing upwards. On admission to the local hospital, according to their notes, he had numerous bruises and abrasions as follows:

1.

Inner aspect of right upper arm, seven nip like bruises

2.

Right iliac crest abrasion 1" x 1"

3.

Left loin abrasion 3" x 1"

4.

Old cut right wrist

5.

Right shoulder abrasion

6.

Left iliac crest 4" x 2" bruising

I saw the patient just shortly after admission, on which occasion he was extremely withdrawn and I had great difficulty getting any logical conversation from him. I saw the bruising outlined by my colleagues at the local hospital. Nursing staff reported that on admission he was very confused and unable to give an account of himself. This conversation was muddled and bizarre and he kept making statements such as, "We have left the dog behind".

He was put on special observation, given sedation and next morning was substantially improved.

He was put on phenothiazines in decreasing doses and was discharged from hsopital in a satisfactory condition 12 days after admission. He was seen by me on three subsequent out-patient appointments and no evidence of recurrence of this condition could be found.

According to his parents, he did not suffer from any significant physical or psychiatric disorder prior to the present incident.

In my opinion, the probability is that this man suffered an acute psychotic episode during his stay in the detention center in Castlereagh but in no way could he be described as a vulnerable personality nor indeed a person who had previously suffered from psychiatric illness.

Dr. [U2]

Consultant Psychiatrist

 

Case No. 55

Male. Arrested during the first half of 1977 and brought to a local police station. On the following day he was transferred to Castlereagh Holding Centre where he was detained for seven days. He was then transferred to prison where he remained for several months, after which all charges against him were dropped and he was released.

He alleged to have been subjected to the following forms of maltreatment during detention in Castlereagh:

Physical maltreatment:

-

Hair pulled out

-

Beatings: diffusely all over, directly on ribs, on hips and

-

stomach

-

Kicking

-

Direct head trauma with head banged against wall

-

Body stepped on, hands and face stepped on while he was on the floor

-

Fingers squeezed violently and wrists bent

-

Arms twisted behind his back

-

Physically exhausting procedures: made to stand with arms straight up in the air, to squat with arms straight out, prolonged and exhausting interrogations

Psychological maltreatment:

-

Threats of having his arm broken; having his child shot; of assassination

-

Humiliation: forced to stand with his underpants down to his-knees while being ridiculed. His family referred to in a degrading way.

-

Confusing procedures: interrogation alternated between physical violence and "friendly" interviews.

He claimed to have had the following symptoms immediately after the alleged maltreatment

-

Cardio-pulmonary: he was bothered by tachycardia for the seven days he was in Castlereagh

-

Gastrointestinal pain just after the beatings in the epigastrium, but this disappeared quickly

-

During detention in Castlereagh he passed black-brown urine, which he stated he was told was due to blood in the urine. This happened on the second or third day

-

Pains in his hands and his left fourth finger was swollen

-

Numerous bruises distributed all over his body

-

Headaches localised to both temples and vertex; these decreased gradually

-

Shaking hands, "pins and needles" after having held the arms out straight. Pains in his elbows and his left hand. These pains later disappeared

-

Psychological: He heard footsteps without knowing whether or not they were real. It does not seem likely that he was hallucinating. He stated spontaneously that he had been so desperate during detention he had tried to hurt himself by throwing himself onto the floor in order to be taken away for treatment.

He claimed to have suffered the following symptoms in the period following his detention in Castlereagh:

The symptoms of tachycardia continued for the first two months he was in prison, and then disappeared, although he still has sporadic attacks. The headache continued but became less acute. He became more irritable and erethitic. He had sleep disturbances for a certain period. His left fourth finger remained swollen for about three months. After his release from prison he drank more alcohol than previously.

Previous medical examinations

During his detention in Castlereagh, Case No. 55 was examined by several doctors who have given medical evidence of physical injuries. They found consistency between the injuries found during their examinations and the maltreatment alleged by Case No. 55 at the time. These doctors were convinced that the lesions could not have been self-inflicted.

Findings at detailed examination

This man was examined by the medical delegates approximately ten months after his arrest and detention. At the time of detailed examination he still complained of the following symptoms:

-

Sporadic attacks of tachycardia

-

Intermittent headaches

-

Increased alcohol consumption

-

Increased irritability, and erethitic and quarrelsome behaviour

Case No. 55 stated spontaneously to the medical delegates that in order to get away from interrogation he twice threw himself onto the floor. This cannot explain the injuries alleged by Case No. 55 and noted in the medical reports made at the time of detention (attached).

The medical delegates find consistency between the maltreatment alleged, the symptoms and the medical reports. The detailed examination found predominantly psychological residual signs and noted symptoms which could be ascribed to maltreatment, although the possible effects of imprisonment on his behaviour and condition are difficult to evaluate. However, on the basis of all the material presented to the mission and the medical delegates? assessment of his symptoms and reactions immediately after maltreatment, the medical delegates conclude that the detailed examination strongly corroborates the case that maltreatment took place.

 

Medical Report on Case No. 55 by Dr. M1

Dated during the first half of 1977

This man was arrested [during the first half of 1977] and brought to Castlereagh on the following day. I examined him on [Day 9] at his solicitor’s request.

[Case No. 55] stated that during the previous weekend he was interrogated at intervals by members of the RUC, during which he was assaulted. He stated that he had been pulled around the room several times by his hair, that he had been punched and kicked on his arms and legs and trunk, also that his arms had been forcibly twisted up his back.

He also complained that he had been made to lie face down on the floor, and that his knees were hyperflexed, i.e., forcibly bent backwards, and he also stated that his feet were tramped on, his face was slapped, and that he was made to stand with his hands above his head for hours, and when he brought his hands down he felt a bursting of "pins and needles" sensation. Finally, he stated that he was made to make a fist with both hands and that his hands in this position were squeezed extremely tightly.

Today he complained of a feeling of numbness in both hands and of a painful left ring finger.

On examination I found that there was patchy hair loss, particularly in both temporoparietal and occipital regions.

On his left arm there were three bruises (fading) one above and two below the elbow on the flexor surface.

On his abdominal wall in the epigastrium (i.e., the top of the stomach) there was a large bruise approximately 4" x 3" (fading). There was abrasion ½" to 1" in diameter below his right knee and bruising on the front of the right leg below this (fading). There was extensive bruising along both iliac crests (more to the back than the front). Both these bruises were still quite livid. There were fading bruises on the back of his left thigh. There was slight swelling at the proximal interphalangeal joint of the left ring finger.

Conclusion: The clinical findings of hair loss and generalised body bruising are consistent with/Case No. 55,s] history of what occurred during his interrogation.

 

Medical Report on Case No. 55 by Dr. B1

I saw and examined [Case No. 55] on [Day 5] of his detention . . . (he was not in his own home at the time and he was brought to the local police station). He alleged that he was beaten periodically from around midnight to approximately 8 a.m. on the following morning by men in plain clothes; he thought there were 6 of these men in all involved. He said he was punched and kicked and was dragged around by his hair. He was also pulled by his fingers. He further informed me that he had made an official complaint to the police regarding his beatings at the local police station. He went on to say that he was brought to Castlereagh RUC station on [Day 2] and while in custody there he was beaten and kicked many times on [Day 2] in the evening through to [Day 5] by men in plain clothes.

He also said that he had signed a statement under pressure in Castlereagh RUC station. He thought that it was on [Day 2] that he had done this but was not too sure.

On examination: there was extensive bruising covering an area of approximately 4" x 4" in his epigastric region, that is, on the upper part of his abdomen. Around this main area of bruising there were a few small peripheral bruises. He alleged that most of the bruising was caused by many punches received in Castlereagh.

He had bruising and a haematoma (see doctor’s report) covering an area about 4" x 2" over his right hipbone, and he was very tender to touch here. This injury he maintained he received from an assault by a plainclothes policeman in Castlereagh.

There was a small bruise on right upper arm which he said was due to finger pressure when he was being held tightly.

He had a small bruise about 1" x 1" on front of left upper arm just above elbow and a further small bruise about ½" x ½" above that one.

There were 6 linear bruises about 2" to 3" approximately over his right loin (kidney region).

There were five bruises over his lumbar spine, that is, over the lower aspect of his vertebral column. He was very tender to touch here and he maintained these injuries were due to kicks and punches.

On his right knee he had a bruise about 1" in diameter and a smaller one about ½ in diameter on his shin just below knee.

On the right side of his forehead he had a bruise about 2" x 1". On his left buttock he had two small bruises. On the back of his head, to the left side, there was evidence of hair having been pulled out in an area about 3" x 2".

The proximate interphalangeal joint (that is, the first joint) of his left ring finger was swollen and quite tender to the touch. He maintained this injury was due to being pulled by the fingers in the local police station. I understand this finger was x-rayed in the local hospital on [Day 2/ and there was no sign of any fracture.

Conclusion. I have no doubt that [case No. 55] was beaten in the manner he described.

Signed

Dr. [B1]

 

Case No. 12

Female. Arrested during the latter half of 1977 and brought to Castlereagh Holding Centre, where she was detained for 3 days. She was subsequently released without charge.

She alleged to have been subjected to the following forms of maltreatment during detention:

-

Threats of rape

-

Threats that her child would be taken away from her

-

Threats that her husband would be told she was unfaithful to him

-

Threats of electroshock

-

Threats of injections and other medications

-

Degrading treatment (her skirt was lifted)

-

Intimidating procedures:

 

-

Her child was taken into Castlereagh with her

 

-

The light in the interrogation room was turned off and she was threatened with rape.

-

One of her interrogators forced her to stand against the wall and then hit the wall next to her head with his fist. At the same time she could hear whimpering which she thought came from other prisoners.

Case No. 12 claimed to have had the following symptoms immediately after the alleged maltreatment:

-

Shortness of breath.

-

Nausea and diarrhoea from the time of arrest, lasting two days.

-

Nervous rash.

-

After the interrogation on the first day, she had vaginal bleeding which was not at the expected time.

-

Headache localized at the back of the head and covering the whole right side of the head. She had difficulty in concentrating, and felt dizzy during interrogation.

-

She hardly slept during her detention in Castlereagh; cried a lot, was frightened and shaking.

-

At one stage when she was alone in her cell, she had a powerful urge to do a handstand.

Case No. 12 claimed to have had the following symptoms after her release from detention and to be still suffering from them at the time of the interview with the mission:

The somatic symptoms quickly disappeared, but the following psychological symptoms became more marked:

a.

Irritability, erratic behaviour, loquax

b.

Fatigue

c.

Sleep disturbances

d.

depression and anxiety

e.

suicidal thoughts.

Summary of findings of detailed examination of Case No. 12.

This woman was examined several weeks after her release from detention. At the time of examination the medical delegates found signs that some of the psychological symptoms she had described were still present. They also found her to be moderately depressed.

Case No. 12 has been under constant pressure for several months due to her husband being in prison. However, the symptoms she described to the medical delegates suggest that her detention has caused a marked deterioration in her condition. The symptoms described are indicative of strong psychological pressure during detention, particularly the bizarre impulse to do a handstand which is symptomatic of transitory mental disturbance.

On the basis of their examination the medical delegates find consistency between the maltreatment alleged and her symptoms, and the residual signs. The medical delegates conclude that the detailed examination strongly corroborates the case that maltreatment took place.

 

Case No. 8

Male. Arrested during the latter half of 1977, shortly after his release from prison. He was taken to Castlereagh Holding Centre where he was detained for 3 days. He was subsequently released without charge.

He alleged the following forms of maltreatment during detention:

-

General beating with open palms and closed fists

-

Kicking, especially to the testicles

-

Direct punches to the head

-

Verbally degraded and humiliated

-

Hair pulled

-

Physically exhausting positions

-

Hyperflexion of wrists

-

Degrading behaviour (had to pick up matches from the floor).

He claimed to have had the following symptoms immediately after the alleged maltreatment:

-

Attacks of tachycardia, especially just before further interrogation sessions

-

Pain in left wrist and both knees

-

Bruises

-

Headache, sensitivity to light, dizziness

-

"Pins and needles" and numbness of left big toe.

He also told the medical delegates that while he was in Castlereagh he heard screams, but that he believes they were real and not hallucinations. He lost his sense of time and did not know exactly when it was day or night, although he seems to have been oriented as to the times of the interrogation sessions.

He claimed to have suffered from the following symptoms in the period following his release from detention:

-

He felt less sociable; he stayed at home much more frequently than before his arrest.

-

He had difficulty in controlling his emotions, and became easily irritated by other people.

-

He suffers a very real fear of the police, but there are no further anxiety symptoms.

Previous Medical Examinations

Case No. 8 was examined by a doctor during his detention in Castlereagh. Several bruises were found and the doctor noted in his report that he complained of tachycardia, headache, dizziness and decreased. The doctor's report is attached.

Examination by the medical delegates during detailed interview

At the time of physical examination, no objective evidence of injuries was found. He told the mission that he still had decreased social contact and barely checked impulses of violence. The detailed examination took place a few weeks after his arrest and interrogation.

Conclusions

The medical delegates were unable to assess how far his arrest and interrogation had contributed to his claims of changed emotional stability and tendency to isolation, because he had spent several months in prison immediately prior to his arrest and it was impossible to know to what degree the imprisonment had affected his condition. Although the medical delegates find consistency between the medical report of his doctor and some of Case No. 8’s allegations of maltreatment, the detailed examination was inconclusive and could not further corroborate the allegations.

 

Case No. 8 Medical Statement by Dr. A1

Examined on [Day 2] at Castlereagh. Past history not relevant. Arrested during the latter half of 1977 and taken to Castlereagh. Had two interviews, 2 to 3 hours each. First interview no complaints, second interview no complaints. The following day he had three interviews, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., and 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.

First interview, he was beaten by two men with fists and kicked, struck a lot of times on head and body and knocked down. Kicked on testicles 2 to 3 times while lying on ground. He got verbal abuse and was very frightened. He was then made to squat against a wall in a chair-sitting position and he collapsed onto floor and was pulled up by hair and stood against the wall. Was put squatting again but unable to do so and collapsed and was punched and both wrists forcibly flexed. He asked them to stop bending wrists, but they continued. He was also struck by fists during this time, then told to stand but could not.

Pulled up by hair and made to stand with fingertips against wall with feet away from wall. In this position struck on stomach 10 to 20 times and slapped multiple times in the head and kicked two to three times in the testicles. He cried out with pain.

A third man who was called "the boss" came in and said "Hit him again". This man laughed and said "Give him a good bash" if he didn’t answer correctly. Word then came that the police doctor had arrived to examine him, and the men asked him what he would say to the doctor about the bruises. He was examined by the doctor, then back in cell for about 1 hour.

Second interview, on [Day 2] at 2 p.m. No complaints. Offered tea and unable to eat, drank tea only.

Third interview, on [Day 2], 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. by 2 lots of two men. First 2 interviewers gave no abuse. The second pair interviewed him from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m., made him take off his shoes and stand facing wall. Pushed face to wall a lot of times. The bigger one had a strong smell of drink. Both slapped him about the head a lot of times. Smaller one spilled matches and made him pick them up, then gave him verbal abuse about parents, social problems, and said mother was a whore.

The bigger one brought him to the cell and pushed him against cell wall a few times. Allowed to sleep.

On [Day 3], interview 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. No complaints.

Second interview, [Day 3], 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. by 2 sets of men.

No complaints about first set of men. Second group: pushed about by one of them who tried to make him squat against wall but fell after one minute. Then slapped on head and put crosswise on a chair. Fell off and sat on floor for the remainder of the interview.

On examination:

Scalp tender about right ear. Left right eye, lower lip blue and swollen. Tender above right eyebrow. Neck tender back and front, no marks, all neck movements painful.

½" abrasion below right elbow. 1" linear bruise right front upper arm. Both wrists painful on passive movement. 1" linear bruise on abdomen. Abdomen tender generally, sore at top. Left testicle slightly tender, no marks. Two 1" fresh bruises left shin. Tender bruise below right knee. Tender on middle of left shin, questionable bruise. Feels sick in stomach.

Blood pressure 115/60. Complaints of throat pain that a.m. Temperature normal, pulse normal. The sore throat seems due to throat muscles.

Signed

Dr. [AI]

Publication Contents


CAIN contains information and source material on the conflict and politics in Northern Ireland.
CAIN is based within the University of Ulster.


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