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Kelly slams treatment of asylum detainees

21 October, 2004

Sinn Fein MLA for north Belfast, Gerry Kelly, has slammed the recent treatment of asylum detainees being held in Crumlin Road prison. This follows reports that two of the detainees were moved to Maghaberry at the weekend due to staff shortages where they were racially abused and strip searched by staff.

Speaking today Mr Kelly said:

"The treatment of these two men is completely unacceptable. Over the weekend they were transferred to Maghaberry Prison due to staff shortages where they were racially abused, strip searched and locked in their cells for most of the weekend.

"If anything the NIO has learnt nothing over three decades here. Republicans struggled for, and won the right to proper prison conditions, a right that all who are detained should be able to avail of.

"The asylum detainees, should not even be held in prison as they have committed no offence, and yet while there, they are still treated in this disgraceful manner that no-one ought to encounter.

"This is yet further indictment of the Prison Service, following the damning report by the Human Rights Commission revealing widespread human rights abuses at Maghaberry Prison.

"Sinn Féin have already requested access to the Crumlin Road detainees on a fact finding basis and I will be in contact with the British minister for Prisons, Ian Pearson, to address this issue as a matter of urgency." ENDS

Note to Editor: According to statements the two men, who are Muslim, have given to the Refugee Action Group they were:

· Subjected to strip searching

· Subjected to racist comments by a female prison officer

· Denied access to hot water while fulfilling the fasting obligations of


· Denied access to telephones for three days

· Locked in their cells for most of the weekend

· Denied open air exercise.

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