The five techniques (also know as Deep-Interrogation) were illegal interrogation methods which were originally developed by the British military in other operational theatres and then applied to detainees during the Troubles in Northern Ireland. They have been defined as prolonged wall-standing, hooding, subjection to noise, deprivation of sleep, and deprivation of food and drink.
They were first used in Northern Ireland in 1971 as part of Operation Demetrius – the mass arrest and internment (imprisonment without trial) of people suspected of involvement with the Irish Republican Army (IRA). Out of those arrested, fourteen were subjected to a programme of “deep interrogation” using the five techniques. This took place at a secret interrogation centre in Northern Ireland. For seven days, when not being interrogated, the detainees were kept hooded and handcuffed in a cold cell and subjected to a continuous loud hissing noise. Here they were forced to stand in a stress position for many hours and were deprived of sleep, food and drink. They were also repeatedly beaten, and some reported being kicked in the genitals, having their heads banged against walls and being threatened with injections. The effect was prolonged pain, physical and mental exhaustion, severe anxiety, depression, hallucinations, disorientation and repeated loss of consciousness. It also resulted in long-term psychological trauma. The fourteen became known as “the Hooded Men” and were the only detainees in Northern Ireland subjected to all five techniques together. Other detainees were subjected to at least one of the five techniques along with other interrogation methods.
In 1976, the European Commission of Human Rights ruled that the five techniques amounted to torture. The case was then referred to the European Court of Human Rights. In 1978 the court ruled that the techniques were “inhuman and degrading” and breached the European Convention on Human Rights, but did not amount to “torture”. In 2014, after new information was uncovered that showed the decision to use methods of torture in Northern Ireland in 1971-1972 had been taken by ministers, the Irish Government asked the European Court of Human Rights to review its judgement and acknowledge the five techniques as torture.
The Court’s ruling that the five techniques did not amount to torture was later cited by the United States and Israel to justify their own interrogation methods, which included the five techniques. British agents also taught the five techniques to the forces of Brazil’s military dictatorship.