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Anger at refusal to grant access to Rathgael Juvenile Justice Centre

1 February, 2005

Sinn Féin Human Rights, Equality and Women's spokesperson Caitríona Ruane MLA commenting on the Human Rights Commission decision to take the British government to court today over its refusal to allow access to Rathgael Juvenile Justice Centre has said that the decision to block access demonstrates the failure of the NIO to live up to international standards and also the need for urgent movement to increase the powers, particularly on access, of the Human Rights Commission.

Ms Ruane said:

"The British government have already made the decision that the Human Rights Commission should have the power to access places of detention and the power to compel evidence and witnesses.

"This was a was a key Sinn Féin demand during negotiations before Christmas and the British government's made it clear that current situation would be rectified.

"The Commission raised a number of very serious concerns about the treatment of juveniles in this centre in 2002. It is unacceptable that the NIO is refusing access to Rathgael to allow the current situation to be monitored and to see if recommendation arising from the 'In Our Care: Promoting the Rights of Children in Custody' report are being effectively implemented.

"The decision of the NIO to refuse access despite a clear commitment from the British government demonstrates a serious problem within the NIO when it comes to promoting and defending international human rights standards." ENDS

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