Female inmate ‘forcibly strip searched’

BRITAIN STILL ABUSES IRISH REPUBLICAN WOMENSecond woman missed hospital appointment after refusing to remove clothes campaigners say.

REPUBLICAN prisoner campaigners have claimed a forced strip has been

out on a female republican inmate at Hydebank Wood Prison.

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Sharon Rafferty, of Cavana Linn in Pomeroy, was forced to remove her clothes before and after making a court appearance in Omagh, Co Tyrone, last month. Supporters say the 38-year-old refused to take off her cloths voluntarily female prison officers forcibly removed them down to her underwear. Ms Rafferty is facing charges relating to republician paramilitary activity in Co Tryone. Since her arrest in May last she has been detained on a separated wing at Hydebank Wood Prison on the outskirts of Belfast. It has also emerged that a second republican prisoner, Christine Connor, missed a hospital appointment last month after refusing to be strip searched. The 27-year-old is facing two counts of attempted murder and possession of pipe bombs in relation to an attack on the PSNI in North Belfast in May. The Irish News understand both wimen have indicated they will not voluntarialy submit to strip searches in furture.

On Wednsday night Mandy Duffy from the Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association (IRPWA) sais Ms Rafferty felt like she had been “sexually assaulted” after the search. “She feels very strongly she should not have to remove her clothing,” she aid. The prisoner campagner says Ms Connor will also continue to resist strip searches. “Christine feels she is being denied the right to medicial treatment which is a basic human right,” she said. “She is on medication and needs to see a specialist.” The last high-profile female republican prisoner to be subjected to strip searches is believed to be Roisin McAliskey – daughter of former Mid Ulster MP Bernadette McAliskey – who was searched more than 70 times while pregnant in custody awaiting extradition to Germany in connection with an IRA mortar attàck in 1996. She was released wîthout charge in 1998.

I VOTE FOR JUSTICE

In November last year male republican prisoners in Maghaberry Prison ended an 18-month no-wash protest sparked by a number of complaints about the jail regime, including the use of strip searches. A spokesman for the Department of Justice (DOJ) said: “The Prison Service Full Search Policy for women prisoners has developed a two stage full search procedure. A stage one search requires the woman to remove her outer clothin; however she would not be requied to remove her underwear. If staff have suspicions or intelligence has been received to suggest that the woman could be concealing items in her underwear she would be required to proceed to a level two search. “This would require her to remove the clothing from her top half of her body, including her underwear. When dressed she would remove the clothing from the bottom half of her body, including her underwear. While we cannot comment on specific individuals, at no stage has a level two search been deployed in Ash House in recent weeks as is being claimed in some quarters.”

With many thanks to : Connla Young, The Irish News.

Forced strip search of Pomeroy woman a ‘Brutal Sex Assault’ !

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Sharon Rafferty

A REPUBLICAN prisoners welfare group have claimed that a forced strip search carried out on a Pomeroy woman last month amounted to a “brutal sexual assault”.

Sharon Rafferty (38) of Cavana Linn in Pomeroy is currently awaiting trial on five charges related to alleged dissident republican activity in Tyrone.

Detained in Hydebank Prison on remand since May 2012, on August 14 she left the South Belfast prison for the first time in 15 months for a preliminary investigation hearing at Omagh Courthouse alongside her co-accused Gavin Coney, Aidan Coney and Sean Kelly.

According to Mandy Duffy of the Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association (IRPWA), prior to her departure from the prison, force was used after Rafferty refused to remove clothing in her cell. The procedure was repeated upon her return according to the spokesperson, who regularly visits the 38-year-old.

Describing the procedure as “degrading and humiliating”, Ms Duffy said the Pomeroy woman had not reported any physical injuries, but had been left “distressed” by the ordeal.

It’s understood to be the first time in recent years that a female republican prisoner has been made subject to a strip search.

In a statement, the Northern Ireland Prison Service (NIPS) said it could not comment on individual prisoners.

Strip searching of female prisoners became one of the most controversial features of the troubles when it was introduced in Armagh gaol in 1982.

JUDICIAL REVIEW

In more recent times the practice came under the spotlight in 2005, when the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) helped non-republican prisoner Karen Carson bring a judicial review before the High Court in Belfast, claiming frequent strip searching in Hydebank was in violation of articles three and eight of the European Convention on Human Rights, which relate to torture and privacy.

While Justice Girvan said that the articles had not been breached, in his judgement he found that the existing policy “cannot be demonstrated to be proportionate and necessary”.

The comments prompted a review of the NIPS policy for strip searching female prisoners, which led to new policy being introduced in September 2010.

According to the Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice in Northern Ireland, the new policy had by 2011 ended routine strip searching of all new arrivals at Hydebank.

Random searches were also scaled back, but the policy of strip searching has been retained, albeit under a new two stage procedure, with the initial stage allowing the prisoner to retain their underwear.

However according to the Department of Justice, “If staff had suspicions or intelligence has been received to suggest the woman could be concealing items in her underwear she would be required to proceed to a level 2 search. This would require her to remove the clothing from the top half of her body including underwear, when dressed she would remove the clothing from the bottom half of her body including her underwear.”

The new provisions also still allow for prisoners to be forcibly strip searched if they refuse to comply with a full search, using “approved control and restraint techniques”.

‘TRAUMATIC IMPACT’

Speaking to the Tyrone Herald, a spokesperson for the NIHRC said it supports the Prison Review Team’s 2011 recommendation to find an effective and less intrusive alternative to strip searching.

“The Commission’s 2005 research revealed the traumatic impact of strip searching on women and recommended that its use should be exceptional and restricted.”

It said while it had not received any complaints about the use of strip searching on women prisoners in recent times, the body intends to raise the issue of Sharon Rafferty’s forced search on August 14 during a visit with the Prison Service later this month.

Mandy Duffy said both male and female republican prisoners refuse to submit to strip searching, claiming that scanners exist that deem the practice unnecessary. On August 14, she said Rafferty’s three co-accused were also similarly strip searched by force at Maghaberry Prison after refusing to comply with requests to remove clothing.

“There is technology in place that removes the need for any prisoner to remove their clothing,” said the IRPWA spokesperson, “Sharon said she did not want to humiliate herself.”

PROTEST

The fallout over strip searching resulted in male prisoners at Maghaberry Prison staging a dirty protest over 18 months, which came to an end last year when the Department of Justice launched a trial of two millimetre wave scanners at Hydebank. However in February, the department said the scanners would not replace full body searches after a Prison Service report emerged claiming that just 57 per-cent of items tested had been detected.

Republican prisoners at both Hydebank and Maghaberry are currently held in separate wings from the main prison population.

The separation resulted in Sharon Rafferty, as the only republican prisoner in Hydebank, spending more than one year in effective isolation, until she was joined in June this year by a second female republican prisoner, Christine Connor. Mandy Duffy claimed Connor was denied a hospital appointment on August 23 after she refused to comply with a strip search on departure from the prison.

“With the policy now that they are going to be asking republican prisoners to comply with strip searches, that they will refuse, this is going to have an impact on hospital appointments and doctors appointments,” she claimed.

“Christine does have medical concerns. She has kidney problems and she does need to attend her appointments. Therefore she is being denied her rights to medical attention.”

Former Republican prisoner speaks out on Maghaberry protests

With many thanks to -:

The Ulster Herald | 12-14 John Street |

T: +44 (0)28 8224 3444

E: contact@ulsterherald.com

STRIP SEARCH COPS FACING MET INQUIRY

FIVE police officers who strip-searched a 22-year old woman and left her naked in a cell for half an hour will face misconduct charges.

The woman who said her drink was spiked, was arrested outside a club after she ran in and out of a road. Officers (apperently) believed she had drugs hidden in her clothing and she was stripped in her cell with the CCTV images broadcast to the custody desk at Chelsea Police Station. The woman complained about her treatment and the Independent Police Complaints Commission ruled the search was carried out without justification. IPCC commissioner Derrick Campbell said: “I find it difficult to understand why officers think they have the right to strip a young woman leaving her naked and then expose her to being filmed.” The case has been referred back to the Met and five PCs and a duty sergeant will face a misconduct hearing. 

NO OFFICER IS SUSPENDED !!!Image

STOP FORCED STRIP SEARCHES NOW !!!!

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Stiofán Mac Óda

STOP FORCED STRIP SEARCHES NOW!!!!!

Siobhan Monaghan

“one grabbed my hair, pulled my head down and repeatedly banged it off the table surface. the rest of my body was raised into the air until i was upside down. One screw spread my legs and pulled my buttocks apart. The pain was bad but nothing to the humiliation i felt at that moment. This couldn’t be happening; it was nothing less than sexual assult”

Joe McQuillan

H blocks

Maghaberry still do this now!!! End forced strip searches. scanners can be used as in airports xx

Statement from Cógus POWs, Maghaberry Prison 25/05/2012

On the 1st July 2011 Cógus POWs in Maghaberry embarked upon a “Dirty-protest”. We did so after months of watching the Prison service and David Ford eroding the hard fought for 12th August Agreement. Both had been warned for months that their actions or lack off would force the prisoners hand and we urged the Prison service to work within the framework of the 12th August agreement. 


It was a protest we didn’t embark upon lightly as we knew that our actions would bear heavily on our families, it would deflect republicans from the overall struggle outside and would have a physical and emotional impact on ourselves. However to do nothing would have put republican prisoners conditions in a deplorable situation, so with the sacrifices of republican prisoners before us as a beacon, we began a new stage in prison struggle.
The Crux of our angst is the deliberate misrepresentation of the 12th August agreement by the NIPS and the failure of the DOJ and its head David Ford to face down the naysayers, who are reluctant to penal reform and change simply because republican prisoners are the lightning rods of that proposed change. Republican POWs believed that strip-searching and controlled movement was fully addressed in the August 2011 agreement. Sadly rather than embracing the opportunities of the agreement and taking the opportunity to show pragmatism, the NIPS reverted back to their usual dogmatic and rigid policies.
When it was clear that POWs and the DOJ/NIPS were at loggerheads over strip-searching and controlled movement, as it had been pointed out to them on numerous occasions during the circular conversations that passed as the new “forum”. The POWs showed vision and a willingness to promote the agreement and to iron out issues of contention. On the issue of strip-searching pows offered to strip down to their underwear and shake their own under garments, this was the standard and accepted approach to strip-searching in Long Kesh right up to the point of closure in 2000. This proposal was rejected by the prison service that embarked upon a regime of brutal and sexually degrading strip searches of passive republican prisoners.
We began to passively refuse to co-operate with strip-searches while entering and exiting Maghaberry, the response from the prison service was to send a full riot unit into the cells holding us waiting to attend court or hospital. We were charged and pinned to the wall with a shield, then dragged to the floor by screws in full riot gear at all times they applied their knuckles behind our ears as pressure points and twisted our arms and hands into painful locks. They ripped our clothes and underpants from our bodies and then after searching them, through them back at us and exited the cell laughing. This is what David Ford; the so called champion of human rights turns a blind eye to in “his prison”.
Ten months into the “dirty-protest” has seen our health suffer badly as our protest continues. Our cells have lost all natural light as the walls and ceilings are covered in excrement, we are on 23 hour lockup and have to eat and sleep in our own waste. We suffer infections and some men have needed hospital treatment. Our cells are hosed down every six weeks and we are returned to our cells, the process for us starts over again, our long hair and beards are a public testament to Maghaberry visitors that all isn’t well in the “North’s most modern and secure prison”
Ten months into our protests and our refusal to co-operate with strip-searches seen David Ford finally accept what we and others had been saying all along. That technology existed that made strip-searching for the most part redundant in prisons. He accepted a recommendation from Dame Anne Owers to explore alternatives to “full body searching”. Over one and a half million pounds has been spent by the NIPS managing the republican prisoners protest, months of hardship and relationships destroyed in the short to medium term that could have been avoided with common sense and a desire to have a harmonised regime in Roe House.
On the 3rd May 2012 David Ford announced that he was introducing a pilot scheme of two x-ray style machines in Hydebank wood prison and in Magilligan prison. He didn’t say how long the pilot scheme would last or how quickly if accepted it could be installed in Maghaberry. When pushed on this issue Ford has been deliberately vague and ambiguous. There is no doubting that we as protesting POWs have won the argument on the futility of strip-searching in modern times. However without a clear timeline or tight framework to work from our efforts could be placed on the notorious backburner that exists within Maghaberry and our forced strip-searching and controlled movement would be left back in the hands of the NIPS, that is a position we will never accept.
In an effort to defuse tensions and to allow space to watch developments in the pilot scheme, Cógus pows through the independent facilitators informed the NIPS on the 7th May 2012, that if they suspended all strip-searches across Maghberry (as they had done for eight weeks after the 12th august agreement to allow time to install the boss-chair) That Cógus pows would suspend their protest. This offer was refused. On Thursday 10th May 2012 Cógus pows again offered to suspend the protest if the prison service would agree to pows coming down to their under-pants and shaking them ourselves, the prison service response was to offer not to have the search team forcibly strip us and that two prison officers in standard uniform would remove our clothing and that we would pull our underpants elastic out and allow a screw to look down.
We have been attacked and degraded by thugs in uniforms for almost one year now, we would not allow ourselves to be criminalised nor would we allow ourselves to be humiliated with their “latest offer” it was flatly rejected. No one can say that republican prisoners haven’t shown pragmatism or vision, we have no desire to be on protest for protest sake, however as we have shown in this communication, NIPS intransigence is fully to blame for the situation that prevails in Maghaberry today.
On Thursday 23th May 2012 Cógus pows have increased our protest, we slopped out onto the landings as the screws opened up for the morning unlock, the response has been to bring in extra cleaning materials and the screws have spread cat litter all over the landings, we intend in the coming weeks to enhance our protest further, if the NIPS believe that dialogue was or is a sign of weakness our actions now will show them that rather than burning out the protest, our intentions is to increase it. The Door isn’t shut however and if the prison service or Ford is serious about progress they need to act! Not talk! To show their sincerity in moving out of prison conflict.
Can we finish by thanking our families and supporters for your unswerving support, without it our struggle would be impossible…signed Cógus POW rep

POSTED ON BEHALF OF :  Rnu Belfast

Benefit for Irish Republican Political Prisoners

Benefit for Irish Republican Political Prisoners

    • Sunday, 29 April 2012
    • 14:00 until 18:00 in EDT
  • Support the Families of Irish Republican Political Prisoners! Republican Prisoners have been on protest since May of last year over the issues of forced strip searches and free association (issues ten of our greatest Irishmen died for in 1981). They were not criminals in 1981 and they are not criminals now! Help support the families of those in British prisons for their Irish Republican values. Come out and learn more about what’s happening in Ireland.
    $10 at the door – Buffet, Bodhran Raffle and live entertainment from singer Raymond Coleman.
  • This Bodhran was made in Portlaoise Gaol by Irish Republican Political Prisoners, it will be raffled off for the benefit of their dependents. Tix $1

POSTED ON BEHALF OF : Invite-Only Event · By Jim Lockhart.

Family & Friends Bellaghy, have organised a white-line picket in support of the prisoners on protest in Maghaberry.

 

Family & Friends Bellaghy, have organised a white-line picket in support of the prisoners on protest in Maghaberry.F&F Bellaghy, white-line picket.Sat, 31st March 2012

Former RUCstation, Main Road, Bellaghy.@ 2.00 pm.

They are calling on all Republicans to attend the picket and show their support for the prisoners on protest.

VICTORY TO THE POWs

 
POSTED ON BEHALF OF : Thomas Clarke Lurgan
 
 

Family & Friends Bellaghy, have organised a white-line picket in support of the prisoners on protest in Maghaberry

F&F Bellaghy, white-line picket.

Sat, 31st March 2012

Former RUC station, Main Road, Bellaghy.

@ 2.00 pm.

They are calling on all Republicans to attend the picket and show their support for the prisoners on protest.

VICTORY TO THE POWs

POSTED ON BEHALF OF : Mandí Uí Dubhthaigh

Life as a protesting republican prisoner in Maghaberry

Damien McLaughlin is the first republican prisoner to talk publicly about the “dirty protest” taking place in Northern Ireland’s largest jail.



The 35-year-old convicted paramilitary – who has just been released from Maghaberry Prison – took part in the protest, which involves mixing urine and excrement and spreading it around the jail.


The tactic was used by IRA prisoners in the late 1970s and early 1980s. They refused to wash, and grew long beards.


Similar tactics have been used in Maghaberry since May 2011 by an estimated 30 prisoners.


Rather than smear excrement on their own cells, most of them are throwing it out onto prison landings.


Prison officers on the wings are forced to wear forensic suits, latex gloves and face-masks. 


Industrial cleaners are used to clean the wings on a daily basis.


The prisoners are protesting over the number of forced strip-searches taking place.


McLaughlin, from County Tyrone, said he underwent 24 strip-searches during his time behind bars.


He was jailed after being found guilty of possessing two rifles, a sawn-off shotgun and more than 100 bullets.


In a BBC interview, he was asked a series of questions:


What’s your problem with strip searching?


“Strip searching is a form of humiliation. There is no need for it. There’s technology to do it, the BOSS chair – body orifice security scanner.”


But the authorities regard you and other prisoners as dangerous men, they need to use the human eye and human touch in a search.


“The BOSS chair is a scanning system that picks up any of the things they’re talking about.


“People going onto aeroplanes go through these type of things. They’re not stripped going onto aeroplanes, and we know what can happen there.”


Exactly what form is the prison protest taking?


“At the moment the boys are embarking on a protest where they’re mixing their urine with their faeces and they’re putting it out onto the landings, and that has been ongoing since 6 May last year. 


“They’re living in their own waste at this present time.”


When will it stop?


“No Boss chair – protest goes on. The protest will go on while they’re forcibly strip-searching republican prisoners.”


What’s it like inside the part of the jail you were in?


“The smell would be one of the first things that would hit you. 


“I was talking to one of the fellas recently who came in while I was in, and he said as soon as he came onto the wing, the fumes and the smell of the human waste hit him, it brought tears to his eyes. It’s really bad. 


“There’s industrial cleaners going all day trying to clean it. The cells are rotten. There’s human waste and bits and pieces of food lying in corners of cells. 


“There’s waste all round the doors. It’s really bad.”


You and the other men in jail are seen as very dangerous people, what is the problem with strip-searching?


“The problem is you’re being humiliated and degraded. 


“They’re making you wiggle your tongue, stand on one foot, wiggle your toes, all sorts of degradation. When they forcibly strip you, they send in the riot squad.”


You were convicted of possessing guns and ammunition, why should anyone have any sympathy?


“People who are sent to jail have lost their liberty. That’s bad enough. 


“You don’t go to jail to be tortured on a daily basis, to be humiliated to be degraded. People go to jail to do their time.”


Are you sorry for what you did?


“No comment.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/mobile/uk-northern-ireland-17288794?SThisFB

POSTED ON BEHALF OF :  Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association

HMP Maghaberry- Civil rights founder calls for fact-finding mission

PRESS RELEASE – 2nd. ‘Global letter’ TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN
N.B. –Media contacts should view EXTRA @ end.32 CSM in defence of the Nation

There was, at least superficially, what appeared to have been a genuine bid to avoid conflict between protesting supporters of non-conforming republican prisoners and participants at a loyalist order march, on the streets of Derry, on August 12th 2010. Such resulted in long negotiations before an agreement was formally established. All those involved in these negotiations; the prisoner representatives, the facilitators and the gaol/N.I.O representatives all signed up to it, as a bond of their sincerities.

As part of the arrangement it was “agreed” that a new technology led search would replace the humiliating strip searches in place prior to 12th August. Since Sept 2010 that agreement has been reneged upon. On as many as 40 occasions, political prisoners have
been subjected to brutal forced strip searches, while leaving for and returning from court and hospital appointments.

Within the prison and within merely four weeks, this alleged agreement seemed to have been completely abandoned, by the POA-Prison Officers’ Association. Since then there has been what can only be described as a deafening silence from certain quarters. This is certainly the case with a number of political representatives who assured both the prisoners and their families that they would be monitoring the situation and would challenge any human rights violations against prisoners. There should be no hiding place for anyone committing such offences against prisoners, and therefore an urgent need for a humanitarian fact-finding delegation to visit this prison at the earliest possible opportunity.

Towards the end of February, as a co-founder of NICRA in 1967, and co-ordinator of the Derry & N-West Civil Rights Network, I penned, what has become known as a “global letter”. In such, I endeavoured to highlight known facts pertaining to HMP Maghaberry.

The letter commented: “There was a promise that strip-searches would be replaced by the use of airport-style, electronic scanning. No doubt many members of the public breathed a sigh of relief that the prison authorities had abandoned their ‘old ways’ of carrying out body-searches.

A recent letter, no doubt smuggled out of that institution, signed by Damien McLaughlin, was highly upsetting and graphic in its detail. In short, this man has been subjected to ten violent strip searches in the previous twelve weeks, before his letter was posted on the Internet as recently as February 13th.

The men are led to a small cubicle by two prison officers and held there for around an hour if they refuse to co-operate, and at times a governor will read them the prison rules. Outside a riot squad consisting of eight members is getting ready. They enter in full riot gear, helmets, shields, and body protection to overpower each individual prisoner. Their jeans and other outer garments go first, then shoes, socks, vests and even boxer shorts are embarrassingly forcibly removed, while one officer holds down the head, and others tightly grip arms and legs.

The prisoners describe this modus operandi in different ways, speaking of it as “agony” or “extremely painful”. They write that often it is “hard to breathe because of gloves covering face and mouth”. On occasions their clothes are actually cut off. When returned they are escorted to their cells, more times than not, suffering great stress and pain. What their relatives are going through I can only guess at and no wonder they are protesting. As in the civil rights days the streets will undoubtedly become the only reliable parliament for bringing grievances and issues unto the public arena.

I ask myself. My God, what has changed for the political prisoners? What are ‘our’ politicians saying or doing on this issue? Has the local media taken a “Three ‘wise’ monkeys” approach for one dubious reason or another?

Agree or disagree with their political perspective, Irish prisoners should not be so brutally abused. These strip searches are not merely inhumane and degrading, but, in my humble opinion, amount to torture, plain and simple. Mr. McLaughlin’s letter is a wake-up call to all of us. We know too well from recent history that the plight of prisoners, in the here and now, can only be ignored at our peril”.

Alleged abuses need to be highlighted publicly by everyone as and when they happen. Those who gave those assurances in August 2010 should now be challenged to publicly condemn such barbaric treatment and hold to account those who have perpetuated such acts. A special onus falls on those who profess to be advocates of human rights, therefore this appeal, “To Whom It May Concern”.

Is Mise,
Le Meas,

Fionnbarra Ó Dochartaighaigh, B.A. [Hons.],
Rights.civil@googlemail.com
Address supplied.

Mobile: 07783660181

EXTRA: Sent to: David Ford, MLA, Minister for Justice-david.ford@allianceparty.org; International; secretariat, Amnesty International; CAJ-Committee on the Administration of Justice [N.I] Adrienne@caj.org.uk; leading politicians including SDLP executive & MLAs; local, national & transnational media.

PUBLISHED ON BEHALF OF :   Fionnbarra Ó Dochartaigh.