Indefinite Internment Without Trial
‘If they come for me tonight they will come for you in the morning’– Angela Davis
In Britain today there are a group of men held in prison without trial or any form of due legal process, and they are being detained indefinitely. These men have committed no crimes in Britain and are being held at the behest of a foreign state, the U.S., whilst their extradition to that country has been ruled unlawful by the British court. Their continued imprisonment, in breach of the most elemental civil and human rights, has clear implications for every citizen in the U.K. because if the rule of law is suspended in the case of any unpopular minority then dangerous precedents are set that will eventually be used against anyone or any group viewed as worthy of ‘special measures’.
There are currently seven men, all of Middle Eastern and Asian extraction, being held in a small isolation unit at Long Lartin maximum-security prison in Worcestershire, some of whom have been there for almost ten years. Originally designed and used as a prison punishment unit, the Detainee unit is very much a prison and it’s inhabitants are kept strictly separated and isolated from other prisoners in the jail. Methods of small-group isolation and control are applied which over a prolonged period of time are known to have a seriously damaging effect on the mind and personality. In June of 2011 the Chief Inspector of prisons, Nick Hardwick, was extremely critical of the situation of the prisoners confined to the Detainee unit and in a report on the unit wrote, “The Detainee unit at HMP Long Lartin is a prison within a high-security prison. It holds a small number of individuals suspected but not convicted of involvement in international terrorism and held under immigration or extradition law. Some have been held for many years as they fight removal from the UK and all are held in the highest security conditions. 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. The risks to the mental and physical health of detainees of such lengthy, ill-defined and isolated confinement are significant.”
The existence of this group of prisoners is proof that none of our legal traditions and rights are safe from serious compromise and surrender, and their continued detention in conditions of virtual solitary confinement makes a complete mockery of the belief that anyone is truly safe from arbitrary arrest and imprisonment, especially when the state decides to widen the focus of it’s ‘War on Terror’.
The attorney general, Dominic Grieve, claimed in response to the release of Abu Qatada that ‘indefinite internment without trial’ does not exist in the U.K. This is a lie. He is fully aware that in the Detainee unit at Long Lartin a group of men are currently being held in exactly that unlawful situation as a gesture of acquiescence to American power.
Update From John Bowden About Lies Written In A Report By Prison Hired Social Worker – April 2012
Update From John Bowden About Lies Written In A Report By Prison Hired Social Worker
Brendon Barnett, a criminal justice social worker in Edinburgh, has so compromised himself by writing blatant lies in a report to the parole board to try and sabotage my release that his employers should seriously consider his suitability as a social work professional.
Social Work Advice and Complaints Service in Edinburgh are currently investigating my complaint that in a report submitted to the parole board in February Barnett wrote what he knew to be total lies and did so without any concern that his lies would inevitably be found out. This suggests either a serious personality disorder on Barnett’s part or a belief that whatever he wrote the system would support him and never hold him properly
accountable. It will therefore be interesting to see how my complaint is treated by the social work complaints service and how the system deals with someone who thinks it’s completely acceptable to use their position to destroy the lives of people considered too marginalised, powerless and stigmatised to defend themselves.
In response to an article that I wrote exposing the lies in Barnett’s report, Barnett submitted a second report to the parole board obviously motivated by a determination to inflict greater punishment for my having the temerity to speak out. In his second report submitted on the 22nd March he accuses me of being ‘very selective’ in my use of quotes from his first report and ‘manipulative’ in my ‘editing’ of them. He claimed that I wrote and distributed the article as a ‘crude attempt to intimidate and cow’ him. He also made reference to a warning or threat in his first report that my continuing to use the internet as a means of exposing dishonest reporting by social workers should be considered by the parole board as sufficient reason to deny my release.
In terms of my reason for writing and distributing the article about the lies in Barnett’s first report, my actual motive was to try and highlight a pattern of behaviour on the part of prison-based psychologists and social workers that compromises their professional integrity by blurring the boundaries between an often vindictive prison system and the supposed professional independence of ‘criminal justice workers’ like Barnett. Although not formally employed by the prison system Barnett clearly had contact with and was influenced by senior prison staff whilst writing his first report and obviously believed he now shared with them such total power over me that I would be completely defenceless
to his lies; in fact what he actually succeeded in doing was undermining the basic integrity of his report and illustrating how so-called criminal justice professionals like social workers and probation officers are often used by prison staff to legitimise the otherwise blatant victimization of prisoners. Either way, my essential motive in writing and distributing my article was to bring attention to a clear abuse of power by Barnett and also to an obvious and repetitive pattern of lies in social work reports written on me for the parole board. In fact, Barnett’s lies, although uniquely unbelievable, fit a consistent pattern of dishonesty and lies in reports submitted to the parole board since at least 2007. The motive is clear: to prevent my release by any means necessary.
Barnett claims that in my article exposing his lies I was selective in my choice of quotes from his first report and manipulative in my editing of them. In fact, I lifted the quotes verbatim from his report and selected those that were obviously untrue in the extreme, such as the claim that I was convicted of hate crimes against ethnic minorities and gay people. In a typical example of this he wrote, “Bowden has not only used a political analysis of his own history but also those of his victims suggesting they were individuals easily discriminated against on the basis of race or sexuality”. This is EXACTLY what Barnett wrote free of any manipulation or editing by me. He also wrote, “Bowden has suggested that his victims were easily discriminated against on the basis or race or sexuality” and “There has been no investigation of the values and beliefs that informed Bowden’s targeting of individuals, i.e. what particular characteristics deemed a person worthy of attack: ethnic background, deviant sexuality”. Despite a mountain of official reports and evidence relating to my life before prison and the circumstances of my ‘offending behaviour’, which Barnett would have been familiar with, he decided to introduce a racist and homophobic dimension to my case that has absolutely no basis in fact or reality. The question therefore has to be asked why?
Prison-based social workers often exaggerate, distort and misrepresent facts when writing reports for the parole board, but rarely are naked lies written in reports that are examined by a judicial body like the parole board. In 2007 a prison-based social worker, Matthew Stillman, wrote a report for the parole board preparing to consider my release in which he described a prisoner support group, Anarchist Black Cross, as a ‘terrorist organisation’ and my connection with it as sufficient reason to deny my release. Stillman, a right-wing American, claimed that ABC’s politics were ‘Terroristic’ in his opinion, though would subsequently also claim that he was encouraged by senior prison staff to use the term ‘terrorist’ in his report to the parole board. Political definitions, no matter how distorted, are however completely different to blatant lies, there are only two explanations for Barnett writing such outrageous lies in his report to the parole board, either plain incompetence [difficult to believe when one considers his otherwise forensic eye for detail in the report] or straight forward malevolence. Either explanation is almost secondary to the imperative that he should be sacked or removed from a job where he is able to inflict serious damage on people’s live.
John Bowden – HMP Shotts – April 2012