07/08/2011

Prisons of shame: Pauline McCabe, Prisoner Ombudsman for Northern Ireland

Brussels, 8.7.2011

Pauline McCabe, Prisoner Ombudsman for Northern Ireland 22nd Floor, Windsor House, Bedford Street, BT2 7FT Ireland

Dear Madam,

Concerns: the deaths in Maghaberry prison, Brendan Lillis who is actually dying in the Maghaberry prison

May I remind you to my letter of 30.6.2011, please ?

In this letter I said that it is not normal that, while you are pretending to investigate the complaints from prisoners and the deaths in prison custody (from 1 September 2005 the remit of the Prisoner Ombudsman was even extended as required by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland), you say that you ‘can not comment and can not be helpful’ in the case of Brendan Lillis.

You say that 'these matters are for Minister for Justice Ford and the prison authorities' but that is not correct. The least you can do as Prisoners Ombudsman which investigates with a special team the many deaths and suicides in the prisons of Northern Ireland, is to make a report of a caseas Brendan Lillis and to take contact with the Minister and the direction of the prison authorities.

As you know very well, Brendan is very sick and he risks to die in the Maghaberry prison of Northern Ireland where there were 3 deaths during the past 3 months.

I learned that Brendan has no right to the visit of a physician from outside the prison. That's in violation of the prison law and international laws. Brendan is now more than 450 days in bed and he is more dead than alive. His situation is getting worse every day. He can hardly move or talk. He would now be fed through a gut that is going ​​directly to his stomach. That is a sadistic torture because they know that he is dying and it is again a violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and of the national and international laws.

Given his health, he has the right to be released.

As I said, there have been many deaths in the Maghaberry prison without you were doing anything to prevent it, without you took your job seriously. You seem to work without human feeling, without thinking of the life of the prisoners and their husbands, their families and friends.

Remember that you are a prisoner ombudsman. So, it is your work to DO something for prisoners.

You think that, by refering to the Minister of Justice and the direction of the prison authorities, you can avoid your responsibility. But it will not help you. If you do not help a very sick prisoner by making a report and contacting the Minister and the prison authorities, you can be prosecuted as he dies.

Yours sincerely,

Jan Boeykens President of Werkgroep Morkhoven Belgium

 

Friends of Brendan Lillis https://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_182248348494841#!/home.php?sk =group_132734503459781

07/01/2011

RTE News Ireland: ‘Prisoner Ombudsman can be helpful…’

Pauline McCabe, Prisoner Ombudsman for Northern Ireland, who investigates deaths in Prison Service ‘cannot be helpful’ in the case of Brendan Lillis who is dying in the Maghaberry prison of Northern Ireland…

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RTE News Ireland:

29 March 2011 – The PSNI has begun a criminal investigation after the Northern Ireland Prisoner Ombudsman said a prison officer planted a note in the cell of a dissident republican suspect. http://www.rte.ie/news/2011/0329/psni.html

Probe into Maghaberry prison cell note

The PSNI has begun a criminal investigation after the Northern Ireland Prisoner Ombudsman said a prison officer planted a note in the cell of a dissident republican suspect.
The Prison Service of Northern Ireland says a member of staff has been suspended following the report by the ombudsman.
In a statement, the Prison Service said the prison officer was suspended in accordance with its code of discipline.
‘We have launched a disciplinary investigation into this matter which has been adjourned pending the outcome of the police inquiry.’
The note is believed to have contained personal details about the then Governor of Maghaberry Prison, Steve Rodford.
Mr Rodford resigned in December 2009 because of fears he faced a security threat.
Prisoner Ombudsman Pauline McCabe found that on the balance of probabilities, a member of prison staff planted the note in the cell of Brendan McConville, who is charged with the murder of PSNI Constable Stephen Carroll in Craigavon two years ago.
Mr McConville’s lawyer wrote to the Ombudsman alleging that his client had been set up by prison staff opposed to planned reforms within the prison.

Photo: Brendan Lillis who is now more then 450 days in bed in the Maghaberry prison of Northern Ireland. He has lost half of his body weight and is too weak to move, yet Maghaberry prison refuses to provide IV nourishment to him. Starvation is a slow and suffering way to kill a person. Please email PA/Prisoner.Ombudsman@prisonerombudsman.x.gsi.gov.uk and let them know their action of not providing IV nutrition to Mr. Lillis is tantamount to murder.
Friends of Brendan Lillis
https://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_182248348494841#!/home.php?sk
=group_132734503459781

06/30/2011

Human rights violations in Northern Ireland (2)

Pauline McCabe, Prisoner Ombudsman for Northern Ireland: ‘We investigate the complaints from prisoners and the deaths in prisons but we cannot be helpful’

PA/Prisoner. Ombudsman@prisonerombudsman.x.gsi.gov.uk
To: werkgroepmorkhoven@gmail.com
date: 28 juni 2011
Subject: RE: Prisoner Ombudsman Enquiry Form

Dear Jan

Thank you for your email in relation to Mr Brendan Lillis.

While we are aware of Mr Lillis’ situation, the Prisoner Ombudsman’s
remit extends to the investigation of complaints from prisoners and the investigation of deaths in prison custody.
We are not in a position, therefore, to comment on his continued detention. These matters are for the Minister for Justice and prison authorities.

I am sorry we cannot be more helpful.

Yours sincerely

Prisoner Ombudsman’s Office
22nd Floor, Windsor House
Bedford Street
Belfast BT2 7FT

Human rights violations in Northern Ireland

Brussels, 29.6.2011

Pauline McCabe, Prisoner Ombudsman for Northern Ireland

Dear Madam,

I read that with effect from 1 September 2005 the remit of the Prisoner Ombudsman was extended as required by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to investigate deaths in Prison Service Custody.

There were now 3 deaths on 3 months, in the Maghaberry prison in Northern Ireland and Brendan Lillis who is very sick and lies during more than 450 days in bed, is dying in this prison.

He needs urgent help from you.

Jan Boeykens
Belgium
President of Werkgroep Morkhoven

Friends of Brendan Lillis
https://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_132734503459781

http://www.niprisonerombudsman.gov.uk/contact.html
——–
Your message has been sent!

http://www.niprisonerombudsman.gov.uk/contactthanks.php

05/29/2011

Maghaberry Prison: Open Letter to the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Mai 29, 2011

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

Dear Sir,

Concerns: HMP MAGHABERRY Prison

After the examination of the high-level Irish Government delegation by the UN Committee against Torture on 23 and 24 May 2011, the situation in Irish prisons has deteriorated…

As you know the health situation of the 59 old prisoner Brendan Lillis who is detained in MAGHABERRY Prison, is very critical and he needs urgent hospitalisation.

Another prisoner was found dead in his cell.

The prisoner Harry Fitzsimons has recieved a severe beating this morning. They went into his cell this morning, holding their hands over his mouth and nose to stop his breathing, punching his face they broke his glasses he has cuts on his face, they tried to break his nose, then they brutally ripped every stitch of clothing off his body.
One said he is unrecognisable, he has a suspected broken wrist an ribs due to the severe punching to his body,

I just heard that the prisoners don’t have visit from their Priest, or any outside contact and that the prison facilitators, as provided for in Maghaberry’s own rules, are not allowed.

 

I hear also that the screws are messing around with the mail and POWs may not be getting their mail.

May I request your urgent intervention in this matter?

I am waiting your answer.

Kindly,

Jan Boeykens
Faiderstraat 10
1060 Brussels
Belgium

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HMP MAGHABERRY Prison
17 Old Road Ballinderry Upper County Antrim BT28 2PT
Northern Ireland
Phone No.
028 92611888
Governor / Director: Pat Maquire

05/20/2011

Ireland: violation of human rights

Ireland with its violation of human rights, is a good example of the ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’ within the European Union…

Brendan Lillis remains in the prison hospital at Maghaberry Gaol where he suffers from a chronic medial condition called ankylosing spondylitis, which cause his spine to fuse. At present, he is confined to bed and his condition has taken a turn for the worst. His weight has plummeted to five stone and his rapidly deteriorating health is causing huge concern to his family and friends. 

His continued incarceration is a clear demonstration of the shameful nature of British rule in Ireland.

What they are doing to Brendan is against their own written policy. In keeping with the Northern Ireland Prison Service Corporate and Business Plan 2008/11, it is stated that prisoners’ access to health services must be appropriate to their needs and equivalent to those services available to the public.  This is off the NI Prison Administration website. They are not honoring their rules.

The high security Maghaberry prison in Co Antrim has been ranked as one of the worst performing in the UK.

http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_132734503459781...

Friends.Of.Brendan.Lillis@groups.facebook.com

http://www.republicannetwork.ie

05/08/2011

Europe: Violation of human rights in Irish prisons (2)

IrishPrisonServices.jpg

IRELAND’S SHAME AS EUROPEAN TORTURE COMMITTEE PRESENTS DAMNING INDICTMENT OF IRISH PRISON SYSTEM

The fifth report on Ireland from the Council of Europe Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Degrading Treatment (CPT), published today (Thursday, 10th Feb 2011), is the most critical yet, and a damning indictment of a prison system that is failing to meet the most basic human rights standards of safe and humane custody. The Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT), Ireland’s leading penal reform campaign organisation, is calling on all election candidates to take heed of this national disgrace and commit to rectifying the many human rights issues identified in the report, including slopping out, overcrowding, escalating violence, patchy provision of health care including mental health care, and above all, the failure to provide safe custody.

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Critical Issues

Among other issues, the Committee found:

Complaints: Some of the most serious concerns in the report relate to allegations of mistreatment of prisoners by staff, where the Committee points to inadequate investigation of complaints, poor recording of alleged incidents, and inadequate or no medical examination of prisoners who make complaints. (30-31; 34) Clearly there is a major deficit of oversight and accountability, and this report highlights how an independent system of investigation is needed, similar to that which now prevails for Garda custody. (102-105)
Prison health care: the CPT found inadequate provision of prison healthcare, recording that in some prisons doctors were not fulfilling contracted hours, even where these hours were already wholly inadequate. Serious concerns also expressed about prescribing methadone at Cork, Midlands, Mountjoy (74). Some particularly worrying incidents were reported in relation to inadequate treatment of a HIV positive prisoner (63); of a prisoner being chained to staff during medical treatment in the Midlands (65); and of a prisoner being forced to undergo withdrawal from heroin while subjected to slopping out in Cork (75). Overall the keeping of medical records was found to be inadequate (67), with prisoners not receiving medical examination on admission at Cork or Mountjoy (68 and 70) – this has very serious implications for investigating any allegations of mistreatment.
Risk Assessment: Across the prison system, the Committee found no basic admission or induction policy in place (except at Midlands prison) including no cell-share risk assessment procedure – which is especially worrying given serious incidents, including homicide, in shared cells in recent years.
Slopping out: the CPT rejected the State’s contention that toilet patrols operated effectively, and reported that they found prisoners were often not allowed out of cells at night and reported being subjected to verbal abuse when they asked for access to toilets (48)
Psychiatric care: the CPT found mental health care to be inadequate, particularly in Cork where there was poor record keeping, over-reliance on medication and dirty observation cells. They report on one case in Wheatfield prison, where a prisoner was held in a special observation cell for 6 weeks and worsened in condition during that time.
Protection and punishment: The report contains a shocking description of the high numbers on 23-hour lock up for protection (56), including high numbers in St. Patrick’s Institution (57). The CPT also found improper use of special observation cells for discipline (81), including an incident where a disciplinary hearing took place in a special observation cell while prisoner in underpants. It found routine use of de facto solitary confinement being imposed for up to 60 days, which is illegal under the Prisons Act.
Racism: concerns raised in the report which had not appeared in previous reports include accounts of allegations of racism against Travellers and foreign prisoners by staff and other prisoners (29, 32.)
Prison Figures:

On 25th Jan 2011, the prison population was 4,541 (Source: Irish Prison Service)
On 2nd February 2011, there were 41 boys in St Patrick’s Institution: 6 sixteen-year olds; 35 seventeen-year olds. (Source: Irish Prison Service)
On 17th Dec 2010, 1,003 men were required to slop out in Irish prisons: 515 in Mountjoy Prison; 299 prisoners in Cork prison, all in shared cells (sharing with 1-2 others); 51 in Portlaoise Prison; 99 in Limerick Prison (male). (Source: Dáil Question, 27th Jan 2011 )
On 26th January 2011, there were 250 prisoners on 23-hour or more lock-up (for reasons of protection); 26 on 22-23 hour lock-up; 164 on 20-22 hr lock-up (including 57 in St Patrick’s Institution) and 60 on 18-20 hr lock-up. (Source:Dáil Question, 27th January 2011)

http://irishcriminologyresearchnetwork.wordpress.com/2011...

Photo: Irish Prison Services

 

 

Europe: violation of human rights in Irish prisons

IrishPrisonServices.jpg

IRELAND’S SHAME AS EUROPEAN TORTURE COMMITTEE PRESENTS DAMNING INDICTMENT OF IRISH PRISON SYSTEM

The fifth report on Ireland from the Council of Europe Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Degrading Treatment (CPT), published today (Thursday, 10th Feb 2011), is the most critical yet, and a damning indictment of a prison system that is failing to meet the most basic human rights standards of safe and humane custody. The Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT), Ireland’s leading penal reform campaign organisation, is calling on all election candidates to take heed of this national disgrace and commit to rectifying the many human rights issues identified in the report, including slopping out, overcrowding, escalating violence, patchy provision of health care including mental health care, and above all, the failure to provide safe custody.

During the CPT’s last visit to Ireland, which took place from 25th January to 5thFebruary 2010, the Committee also examined detention in Garda stations and psychiatric institutions. However, the bulk of the report is given over to detailing the appalling human rights issues in Ireland’s prisons. The critical issues of prison healthcare and complaints receive particularly serious censure.

Speaking on the publication of the report, Liam Herrick, Executive Director of the Irish Penal Reform Trust said:

“This report further documents a prison system in crisis, with clear failures in many important aspects of the system – including in relation to healthcare, prisoner protection and investigation of complaints against staff. Undoubtedly some of the problems identified here stem from chronic prison overcrowding and inadequate penal policies, but many of the most serious issues highlight failures at an operational level to meet the most basic standards of safe and humane custody.”

“This report shows a litany of broken commitments and inaction in relation to chronic problems over the past two decades. There has been a failure of leadership to address the problems within our prisons. The bottom line is that prisoners and the general public are left with a prison system that is unacceptable and which has exposed Ireland to international shame. The next Government must prioritise addressing the problems in our prisons, and commit to getting prisoner numbers down.”

There were 3,150 prisoners in custody when the CPT visited in October 2006; this number had reached 4,100 on the occasion of the CPT’s 2010 visit to Ireland. On 25th January 2011, prisoner numbers were 4,541. Efforts being taken by the Irish Prison Service to address the issues cannot succeed unless Government take control of the overcrowding situation, which frustrates any attempts to tackle the serious problems outlined in this report.

Individual Prisons

Cork, Mountjoy and Limerick female prisons come in for particular criticism:

Cork: the CPT found plastic bags being used as toilets (paragraph 41), unacceptable dirty segregation cells (96) and inadequate visiting facilities (99). Prisoners also reported only being able to access one shower and change of underwear each week. The State’s response to these criticisms referred to the proposed new prison at Kilworth – a plan which is now acknowledged to be suspended indefinitely.

Limerick female prison: the CPT found women having to sleep two to a bed because of chronic overcrowding. They also found blocked showers and flooding in cells (42)

Mountjoy prison: the persistent problems of overcrowding in chronic conditions were reinforced by the CPT, who found the prison in an overall poor state of repair (45). The criteria for placement at Mountjoy for those prisoners not deemed vulnerable was “available space, or even floor space”.

St. Patrick’s Institution: The CPT was concerned at the length of time prisoners were spending in their cells and the high number of prisoners not engaged in any meaningful activity (52)

http://irishcriminologyresearchnetwork.wordpress.com/2011...

Photo: Irish Prison Services

05/07/2011

Prisons of shame: Brendan Lillis, Ireland

Brendan Lillis – A Humanitarian Issue

“Trying To Save Brendan’s Life”

Brendan Lillis, a 59 year old prisoner from West Belfast is currently desperately ill in the medical wing of the notorious Maghaberry prison in County Antrim. He suffers from the intensely painful and progressive disease called Ankylosing Spondylitis which due to other medical complications has seen him unable to move from his bed for 14 months and his weight has dropped to a perilous 6 stones (38.1 Kilos !). Due to a series of serious infections and medication which has compromised his immune system, Mr Lillis has been unable to eat, sleep or hold down even liquids for a period close to a month and is constant agony. In short, his health has deteriorated to such an extent that his partner Roisin, who is his only contact with the outside world, fears that he will die in his prison bed!

Mr Lillis was an Irish Republican political prisoner who had been released on license but unfortunately was arrested for an attempted robbery over a year ago. Despite being judged unfit to stand trial due to his desperate medical condition, Mr Lillis is still being held in Maghaberry prison ‘on license’ due to his previous conviction for political charges and is in a Catch 22 situation where he can be held indefinitely at the ‘pleasure’ of the British ‘Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Mr Owen Patterson, M.P. With the ‘Secretary of State’ having the power to release Mr Lillis, only public pressure will convince him to allow this prisoner out of prison to receive the medical treatment he so badly needs and to spend his remaining days with his family in a non-prison environment.

Mr Lillis’ case is a purely humanitarian issue but it is complicated by his political antecedents. Ankylosing Spondylitis, the condition that Mr Lillis suffers from is an intensely painful condition that begins with a curvature of the spine and it has now got to the stage where he is in extreme pain 24 hours a day with little relief and sub-standard medical care. The Maghaberry prison ‘hospital’ is little more than a ‘sick-bay’ which is guarded by Unionist prison warders who would be antagonistic to Mr Lillis due to his Irish Republican past.

Roisin, Mr Lillis’ partner, is understandably beside herself with anxiety and is desperately looking for help with her fledgling campaign to have Brendan treated with dignity:

I am trying my best to highlight this but sadly I’m working alone and don’t have much experience this area but im trying my best……For the 1st 10 weeks he had no visits because he couldn’t get into a wheelchair and they wouldn’t let me into the jail, after a lot of debates with the jail i was eventually allowed to visit him in his cell which i have done since then. as you all no Brendan is now in a precarious situation and if he doesn’t get released from jail i am in no doubts he will die soon.

Mr Lillis’ case should be a concern for everyone on humanitarian grounds alone and it would appear that only public pressure will make the Secretary of State notice the plight of a seriously ill 59 year old man in Maghaberry prison who is in constant pain and whose weight has plummeted to a dangerous 6 stone.

http://hubpages.com/hub/Brendan-Lillis-Irish-Prisoner-Bei...

Please sign the petition because he is now on a heart machine and needs real hospital care:
http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache%3AEG...

Support:
https://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_13273450345978...