Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons, highlighted serious concerns of terror suspects being held indefinitely in his report on HMP Long Lartin. The report noted that two men had been held for more than 11 years in what Hardwick describes as a ‘legal limbo’.
The report reiterated that “We have previously raised concerns about holding a small number of detainees, who already inhabit a kind of legal limbo, in a severely restricted environment for a potentially indefinite period.” However, although the prison had made some changes the recent unannounced inspection revealed that this had not made enough of an impact.
Ultimately the report concedes “The risks to the mental and physical health of detainees of such lengthy, ill-defined and isolated confinement are significant.” In addition the extra restrictions imposed on their movement only compounds the impact of detention without time-limit. HM Prison service will not appreciate the comparison to Guatanamo Bay detention facility where Shaker Aamer, a British resident, still remains after eight years detained without charge or release date along with hundreds of others. The issue of torture at such facilities abroad (soon to be publicly discussed in the Metropolitan Police Inquiry into torture at Bagram prison) has revealed the disregard of the United States for international law when it suits.
Physical torture may not happening at Long Lartin but doctors at Medical Justice who document the physical and mental health of immigration detainees liken detention without time limit to mental torture. As long as the prison service continues their ‘war on terror’ with measures defying habeous corpus the basic human rights which the British government purport all over the world seem blindingly hypocritical.
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