Maghberry Disturbances Independent Inquiry Needed

The Celtic League has written to the Northern Ireland Prisons Minister, Paul Goggins MP, asking him to ensure concerns expressed by prisoners which led to recent disturbances at Maghaberry Prison are properly and independently investigated.

The quality and thoroughness of previous complaint investigation has in the past been criticised by European Prisons `watchdog’ the CPT (see para. 156 in the CPT report link below):

https://www.cpt.coe.int/documents/gbr/2009-30-inf-eng.pdf

“Paul Goggins MP
Minister of State with Responsibility for Prisons
Northern Ireland Office
11 Millbank
London SW1P 4PN

06/04/10

Dear Minister,

I write to express our concern following disturbances at Maghaberry Prison in N. Ireland which have been resolved, thankfully without harm to either prisoners or staff.

News reports outlining the men’s grievances have been publicised and we do hope that the Government and the Prison Authorities will fully and independently inquire into the veracity of the concerns expressed.

You will of course be aware that following its most recent examination of the facilities by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) a number of concerns were raised.

Specifically the Committee remarked in paragraph 154 that:

“In certain cases, the delegation gathered medical findings consistent with the allegations of physical ill-treatment; for example:

• One prisoner alleged that, approximately three weeks before the CPT’s visit, members of the SST had inflicted blows with batons and fists to various parts of the body, in the course of a cell search. His medical file recorded that he had
alleged to prison health care staff that he had been assaulted by prison officers and contained the following entry: “some bruising and redness noted on arms, upper torso and knees”.

• Another prisoner alleged that in December 2007, two members of the SST had assaulted him in his cell. The prisoner claimed to have been punched and to have received blows from a baton to his left cheek, left arm, left leg and on his
neck. The man complained that the incident has left him with a pain in the neck. The information in the medical file of this prisoner in relation to the incident was cursory and, at times, difficult to decipher (including for the
medical staff present).

Nevertheless, the following notes were found:

`Pain both wrists’; `Alleges bite right hand’, `Abrasion forehead + scalp’; `Laceration inside mouth’; `Scratches left elbow region’.”

Concerns about `assaults’ and alleged `oppressive tactics’ by staff towards inmates form part of the most recent litany of complaints and therefore it is important that they are fully investigated particularly in light of the comments by the CPT (paragraph 156) about the examination of previous complaints

Yours sincerely,

J B Moffatt
Director of Information

Cc Secretariat CPT”

Related links on Celtic News at:

https://groups.yahoo.com/group/celtic_league/message/3237
https://groups.yahoo.com/group/celtic_league/message/3232
https://groups.yahoo.com/group/celtic_league/message/3211

J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information
Celtic League

06/04/10

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