Belmarsh Detainees: ANALYSIS: `Our Betrayal of These Men Has Made Them Sick'
Persaud, Raj, The Independent (London, England)
PSYCHIATRISTS AND psychologists are a bit like economists - to get two to agree on anything is usually impossible.
Yet today, 11 psychiatrists and 1 psychologist have united in declaring that indefinite detention under the 2001 Anti Terrorism Crime and Security Act has had a severe adverse impact on the mental health of all detainees they interviewed.
All the detainees are clinically depressed and a number are suffering from severe post traumatic stress disorder.
To understand why so many have developed such severe mental illnesses it is important to appreciate the trauma they had usually suffered before even being detained in the UK.
Three of the detainees had experience of previous detention and torture but all had been in situations of political instability and unrest.
Most had fled to the UK in the belief that our justice system would protect them from the persecution they had faced in their own countries, and it is deeply ironic they should have found themselves incarcerated as a direct result of seeking to come here. This betrayal has undoubtedly contributed to their severe mental illnesses.
Plus the prison has no facilities that would be recognised by psychiatrists as equipped for the treatment of such severe psychiatric difficulties.
Clinicians have severe difficulty assessing what conditions are necessary for the care of these patients, because the Home Office will not let the doctors know what crime the detainees are supposed to have committed. The special provisions of the act under which they are held means they don't have the right to know what they are charged with, they have no right to any kind of trial, and they have no right to appeal against those mysterious unknown charges.
The Home Office will defend itself with the claim that the kind of evidence that would have been gathered against these men will often have been obtained using surveillance techniques whose secrecy is vital for national security. However the suspicion must be that much of the evidence the Government has might have been obtained through torture and other methods used in the countries from which they fled, which are not admissible in a UK court. …