18 December 2002
Dear Mr Murphy
and friends are here today protesting against the
ongoing human rights abuses in Maghaberry Jail. It
is with regret that the Director of Prisons, Mr Peter
Russell, did not acknowledge our request for a meeting
to discuss the relevant issues affecting us and our
loved ones held in Maghaberry.
have lobbied politicians and have sought to highlight
the appalling conditions in Maghaberry Jail. We are
outraged at the Junior Minister, Jane Kennedy, response
on 31st October to a letter she received from Mark
Durkan MLA which outlined our concerns.
Kennedy states there is no evidence to support the
allegation that loyalist prisoners are constantly
attacking republican prisoners.
the Northern Ireland Prison Service (NIPS) and Ms
Kennedy would explain why the security of those prisoners
who received death threats were not protected in any
shape or form despite the fact that the NIPS have
a duty of care under Article 2 of the European Convention
on Human Rights. We are aware that ammunition was
found recently in the prison and Governor Maguire
stated in response to the find that it was almost
impossible to prevent this. He further indicated that
small items can be smuggled comparatively easily into
the prison. Can you, Mr Murphy and the NIPS guarantee
the safety of our loved ones? We dont think
view the use of a sniffer dog as an outright abuse
of our human rights and dignity by the NIPS. Many
of us have been offered closed visits, which we refuse;
closed visits are inhumane and are a step down from
the video link. This was a result of the dog handler
singling us out by tugging the dog lead while the
dog appraised us and then stops at the individual
and sits which is supposed to indicate that the individual
involved is a drug carrier. It would be laughable
if the situation was not so repulsive. It is an outrageous
farcical situation. Indeed the NIPS annual report
published July 2002 highlighted that there were 346
drug finds in the prison. We would like to add that
there were no drugs found on republican prisoners.
latest revelation quite clearly proves the NIPS claims
that the drug dog has proven to be the most effective
weapon to prevent smuggling of drugs is nonsense.
The NIPS own evidence suggests the contrary. Also
we have witnessed drugs being found after people have
passed the drug dog without incident.
Murphy we ask you is this atrocious prison system
to be part of the new Ireland that is
much talked about in the current political climate?
Is this what the future holds? We ask you to intervene
immediately and end this deplorable practice which
targets mostly women and children. We also ask you
to intervene to put measures in place that will house
our beloved ones in a safe environment that will protect
their lives before it is too late.
Spokesperson for Relatives of Republican Prisoners
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