In the media
End this internment now
Saturday December 13, 2003
It has now been two years since the home secretary decided to subject
a number of foreign nationals "suspected of terrorism"
to internment without trial (Blunkett threat to quit Amnesty, December
12). These people have been taken from their families and detained
in high security institutions with neither charge nor knowledge
of when (if ever) their detention might end.
Further, the home secretary refuses to rule out reliance upon material
obtained by torture around the world in his decisions about who
is detained. Meanwhile British nationals - including those "suspected
of terrorism" - properly retain their rights to a fair trial.
This internment offends every notion of justice, equal treatment
of people and the rule of law. It sets a terrible example for other
states and provides ammunition for those who seek to present our
way of life as hypocritical and corrupt.
In the light of Amnesty International's damning report relating
to this policy and the secret processes surrounding it, we call
on the home secretary to end this scandal now. The detained men
must be charged and given a fair trial or released without delay.
Rt Rev Dr Peter Selby
Bishop of Worcester and Bishop to HM Prisons
Rt Rev John Oliver
Bishop of Hereford
Rt Rev Dr Kenneth Stevenson
Bishop of Portsmouth
Rt Rev Richard Lewis
Bishop of Ipswich
Rt Rev Colin Bennetts
Bishop of Coventry
Rt Rev David Stancliffe
Bishop of Salisbury
Rev David Coffey
General secretary, Baptist Union of Great Britain
Rev Dr Colin Morris
Former head of BBC religious broadcasting
Dr Ghayasuddin Siddiqui
Leader, Muslim Parliament
Rabbi Mark Goldsmith
Chairperson, Liberal Judaism Rabbinic Conference
Chairman of Bar Council
Chairman of the Bar human rights committee
Director, Amnesty UK
Human Rights Watch
Medical Foundation for the care of Victims of Torture
Some 16 people have been held without trial at Belmarsh prison
since December 2001 (Letters, December 11). It is wise to remember
how internment in Northern Ireland simply recruited more people
for the terrorist cause and prolonged that conflict. Practising
injustice merely perpetrates greater injustice and suffering.
Your shocking expose of abuse in Wormwood Scrubs (Brutality of
prison officers exposed, December 11) underscores the need for the
prison service and individual prisons to become more open and accountable.
We are now concerned that children in prison are held in strip conditions,
can be physically restrained by adult staff, which has resulted
in broken limbs, and are routinely placed in segregation cells.
The prison service must introduce a policy of public interest immunity,
a charter for whistleblowers, to encourage staff, visitors and voluntary
organisations to complain when they witness any wrongdoing.
Director, Howard League for Penal Reform
The conditions in Wormwood Scrubs between 1995 and 1999 merit a
full public inquiry. The government is considering plans to reorganise
the prison inspectorate.
There has been no public consultation. Without it, there is the
suspicion that ministers could be drawn towards a structure that
affords apparent efficiency with minimal discomfort. A robust, independent
prisons inspectorate is vital in guaranteeing close scrutiny of
our least visible and, arguably, the most neglected of our public
Prison Reform Trust