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Alert on Belmarsh conditions

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Arani & Co Solicitors has requested the assistance of all the Muslims in complaining about the treatment meted out to the Muslim detainees in Belmarsh Prison, especially the High Secure Unit, Firstly, there is an issue in relation to the Halal meat concerning Muslim detainees, who refrain from eating meat (due to the prison previously admitting that they were serving haram meat to Muslim prisoners), and have been doing so for some considerable time.

Normally, the Prisoners purchase food in order to supplement their diet. This means that they eat a lot of chocolates and other junk food in order to sustain their diet during that period. All detainees that are detained at HMP Belmarsh Prison loose weight due to their dietary requirements not being met.

The regime mandates that Islamic material cannot be provided to the prisoners unless the material is purchased from a bookshop which caters for all different religions.
If Arabic literature is attempted to be purchased by the detainees, then the detainees have to pay for an interpreter to be able to be able to read the literature for translation costs, and only after the translation costs have been paid can the detainees be offered the literature. This cost is obviously prohibitive and precludes them doing so.

Islamic CDs of the Qur'an or of Ahadith, and any other Islamic literature is not afforded to the detainees.

A recent policy is that detainees are not allowed to have clothes provided to them by members of their families. They have to purchase clothes from a catalogue. This means that the detainees who do not have sufficient funds go without the clothing. They must only wear prison clothing, some have to also go without footwear.

As a result, the detainees are suffering, as a large percentage of the detainees who are held in HMP Belmarsh Prison come from families who do not have the means to support them. There are quite large numbers of detainees who do not even have any family or friends in this country to be able to assist them financially in order to purchase food from the canteen or clothing.

The High Secure Unit, which is based in HMP Belmarsh Prison is a Unit which is separate from where the other prisoners are detained, and has a very strict regime which is run.

Namely, the detainees have only two hours association time in order to bathe, clothe, exercise, feed themselves, wash clothes and make telephone contact with families, friends and loved ones.
This is a fixed regime which takes place, and they are locked up for the remaining 22 hours of the day.

During the period of Monday 23rd – Tuesday 24th May 2005, for 48 hours, there was an alleged “security operation” within the High Secure Unit.

This regime, which is operated in with the High Secure Unit was curtailed, i.e. the detainees who were being held there were not even allowed out for 2 hours.

They could not exercise, nor could they receive social visits or even legal visits during this time – as were all other normal regime activities – in fact they had neither fresh air or natural light for the period. The only prisoners who were unlocked for the duration of the operation were those attending Court, and no-one else.

Meals and medication was allegedly supposed to be provided at the doors - this did not occur.

Certain disabled detainees who were not even provided with their medication on time, were also dehydrated by their inability to use the taps in their cell due to their disability and the total lack of adjustments in their cells for their disabilities.

It was stated that the prisoners would be able to have alternative dates offered for social and legal visits to take place which were cancelled, which to date has not materialised despite repeated requests being made.

The detainees in the HSU were strip searched, and made to squat down.
Ignoring the abject humiliation of being strip searched - but additionally they were forced to squat for no reason?
If the detainee refused to comply with the strip search and squatting, pressure was placed on various parts of their bodies (pressure points) in order to compel them to do so.

Unfortunately, some 'Muslims' have stated that there is nothing wrong for strip-searching to take place. Do these same 'Muslims', who have endorsed that Islamically there is nothing wrong for males to be strip-searched in front of another male, also endorse that there is nothing wrong in forcing people to have to squat naked, and for pressure to be applied to their bodies to compel them to do so?



ACTION PLAN

The detainees need the assistance of the Muslim community in this bizarre situation that they are being placed in.

The detainees need the support of the Muslim community to be able to ask questions from the Director of Prisons as well as HMP Belmarsh Prison Ombudsman as to why such a regime took place whereby the detainees were not every fully informed on Wednesday 25th May 2005.

We shall be grateful if you would be kind enough to place pressure by lobbying:

Governor Geoff Hughes,
HMP Belmarsh,
Western Way,
Thamesmead,
London, SE28 OEB.
Tel: 020 8331 4400
Fax: 020 8331 4401

Stephen Shaw,
Prison and Probation Ombudsman,
Ashley House,
2 Monck Street,
London, SW1P 2BQ.
Tel: 020 7035 2876 or 0845 010 7938 (lo-call)
Fax: 020 7035 2860
Email: mail@ppo.gsi.gov.uk

HM Chief Inspector of Prisons,
HM Inspectorate of Prisons,
First Floor,
Ashley House,
2 Monck Street,
London, SW1P 2BQ.
Tel: 020 7035 2136
Fax: 020 7035 2141

Norman McLean,
Independent Monitoring Boards Secretariat,
2nd Floor,
Ashley House,
2 Monck Street,
London, SW1P 2BQ.
Tel: 020 7035 2254 or 0870 267 8149
Fax: 020 7035 2250
Email: Norman.mclean@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk
Email: imb@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

Prison Reform Trust,
2nd Floor,
15 Northburgh Street,
London, EC1V 0JR.
Tel: 020 7251 5070

National Council for the Welfare of Muslim Prisoners,
24 Culross Street,
London, W1Y 3HE.
Tel: 020 7491 1572
Fax: 020 7493 7899

Please be polite and ask :
• Why the security operation took place –
• Why the detainees were imprisoned for 48 hours without association?–
• Was the intention to make them so severely distressed for the rest of the week that the sight of a choclate bar was sufficient to make them vomit?
• Why their dietary requirements and not being met?
• Why they are not allowed to wear Islamic Dress which their families provide?
• Why they are barred from books which are unobtainable from non-Islamic bookshops?
• Why it was necessary to strip search them and force them to squat, and use excessive force to do so?

Please state that you are writing on the behalf of the following prisoners:

PRISON NUMBERS: NB 4670, NB5353, NB5352, MX5484, HP 6648, HP8918



Source: Arani & Co Solicitors

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