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April 2004
 

Media pressure - Jawad refused de-categorisation
Protest to Prison Director and Area Manager

Rye Hill Prison, Group 4 blunders/exposure of their links
to Israeli Security Activities

 

SUPPORT DECATEGORISATION
The campaign needs you to support the demand for the decategorisation of Samar and Jawad. Further decategorisation means a move to semi-open/open prison conditions that will further enhance their chances of parole next year.

The present political climate of increasing xenophobia against Arab and Muslim people in the UK and the continuation of British involvement in the war against Iraq means we are faced with many obstacles in our main objective of ensuring freedom for Samar and Jawad. Both of them have asked at this stage in the campaign to push for de-categorisation and to be moved to an open prison. Being moved to open prison conditions is meant to help the rehabilitation of prisoners and normalise their contact with the outside world before release. If this is denied to Samar and Jawad because they are foreign nationals, then the prison authorities are not treating them like other prisoners at this stage in their sentence. Therefore, the authorities are guilty of racist and discriminatory action.


 

JAWAD REFUSED CAT D STATUS BECAUSE OF THE PRESENT POLITICAL CLIMATE!
Jawad’s re-categorisation review for Category-D was unsuccessful. This came as a complete surprise to us and we find this an irrational and unacceptable decision. Jawad has fulfilled all the criteria and met all the targets that were set for him by the prison authorities throughout his sentence. He has an exemplary prison record, far above the average for the majority of prisoners, one that should single him out for Cat-D status and thereby enabling him to reach a satisfactory conclusion to his sentence.

Since arriving at HMP Rye Hill, Jawad spoke with the ‘then Head of Custody’ a number of times about his case and plans for the future. He assured Jawad that, having reviewed his file and having made further enquiries, there was nothing that would stop him from progressing to Cat-D conditions, if he carried on in the same spirit and conduct. This view was reiterated and underlined in formal discussions during annual Sentence-Planning meetings and was confirmed when Jawad received his de-categorisation to Cat-C in March 2003. Jawad was advised to stay at HMP Rye Hill (in light of his Univer-sity studies) and receive his Cat-D there, and then move to a Cat-D prison in due course.
Furthermore, at Jawad’s last sentence plan, on the 19th January 2004, he was told that he would be downgraded to Cat-D when the board officially sits in February, that he would be formally recommended for Cat-D status, even though the final decision remained with the ‘new’ Head of Custody, Mr. Simon Barrett, who had arrived at Rye Hill a month earlier.

However, the new ‘Head of Custody’, whom Jawad only met literally on the day of the categorisation review, was clearly hesitant, somewhat hostile, and did not want to make a decision at that time. He said that he needed to talk to somebody else about this, despite it usually being a prison (i.e. his) decision. He was ‘worried’ about the ‘current political climate’, and referred to an article in the Jewish Chronicle that mentioned Jawad’s categorisation review. These seemed to be the issues preoccupying him, even if they should not have any influence on a categorisation decision. Some weeks later, Mr. Barrett informed Jawad of his negative decision. The person he had decided to consult was Mr. Trevor Williams, the Area Manager for Private Prisons. Between these two individuals, a decision was formed on the basis of their own interpretation of the ‘current political climate’. A decision was hence made by Mr. Simon Barrett not to grant Jawad what he undoubtedly deserves, contrary to prison procedures, regulation, and Jawad’s file.

We believe that prejudice rather than politics was behind his decision. It is their definition, understanding and perception of the ‘current political climate’ that is the problem, as it is based on unfounded fears worryingly influenced by an article in the Jewish Chronicle*.

In the process they have ignored Jawad’s actual behaviour, personal conduct, attitude and prison file. Moreover, this is unjust because Jawad’s own progression in the system, his achievements, personal development and diligent adherence to all requirements over the last nine years, have also been cast aside.

Jawad is currently appealing his decision to the HMP Rye Hill Prison Director, Mr. Stuart Mitson. It would be of great help to him if you could express your shock and dismay at this prejudicial, and unjustifiable decision. Further -more, you can request that the appeal decision should be made on Jawad’s own conduct and particulars, and not be based on concerns for issues that have nothing to do with Jawad.


Protest to the Director and Area Manager
Please write and/or Fax to both people (same letter separately addressed) and send a copy to the campaign:

Mr. Stuart Mitson,
Director HMP Rye Hill
Warwickshire CV 23 8SZ

Mr Trevor Williams,
Office for Contracted Prisons,
Unit 6, The Office Village
Cygnet Road, Cygnet Park
Hampton, Peterborough PE7 8FD
(Fax 01753 425 252)

Points to include in the letter:
1. Jawad fulfils all the requirements and met all his sentence plan targets, therefore he should be granted Cat-D status.
2. The decision should be made based on Jawad’s own particular conduct, and not based on prejudice or concerned with events that have no relation to him whatsoever.
3. Jawad should be treated like any other prisoner whereby his prison file, conduct, achievements should determine his progress, not unfounded paranoia about tabloid press.
4. The area manager’s decision was based on an inaccurate short report (less than 300 words) which did not reflect Jawad’s current position.
5. When Mr. Barrett wrote his report to the area manager, his assessment was that Jawad represents no risk of absconding. Three weeks later, Mr. Barrett writes in his categorisation decision that Jawad might represent a risk of absconding. This is an unfounded change as nothing has changed at all in these three weeks to merit such a shift.
6. When Mr. Barrett rejected Jawad’s Cat D, he told him he ‘had not reduced his risk enough’. Jawad asked: ‘how could I have significantly reduced my risk in the last year? What should I have said, done or acted differently?’. Barrett replied: ‘nothing’. Always, if a prisoner meets his targets and successfully fulfils his side of the contract, which Jawad did, then he/she can expect to progress to the next stage. To tell Jawad now, effectively, that this contractual arrangement, which underpins penal policy in this country, does not apply to him, is unfair and discriminatory.
7. Jawad feels cheated, deceived, and discriminated against by Group 4, since he had been assured that he would be granted his Cat D as his file testifies. Jawad’s progress, plans for the future, and successful completion of his sentence have been put in jeopardy without any valid reason.

*Jewish Chronicle article (Feb 20, 2004) stated that Samar and Jawad were the actual bombers and that a campaign was now in action to push for Samar and Jawad’s early release! It went on to imply that serving 8 years out of a 20-year sentence wasn’t enough!! The Jewish News has also run news items about the case expressing concern that ‘the bombers may be freed’!

 

SAMAR'S DECATEGORISATION AND DETENTION ORDER – MORE STALLING
At last Samar’s de-categorisation review board sat on March 26th. Many people had sent in supporting letters that were submitted by her legal team. Yet no decision has been made. Samar thinks that her case is being referred/advice sought from the area office for reasons not yet known.
A detention order has been placed on Samar revoking her original immigration status of ’a right of leave to remain’. There has been appeal against the order to get it lifted. This detention order does not prevent Samar being decategorised and transferred to an open prison, but it does mean that she cannot be allowed out of the prison for town visits, parole etc
.

 

PALESTINIAN PRIME MINISTER MAKES REPRESENTATION
On his recent visit to the UK March 8th, Mr Ahmed Qureia requested of Tony Blair and Jack Straw to confirm to the respective prisons that the government has no political objections in downgrading Samar and Jawad, as well as exerting pressure to do it as they both satisfy all the criteria necessary for open prison conditions. Hanan Ashrawi (leading Palestinian spokesperson) has also made representation on behalf of Samar and Jawad to the British Foreign Office personnel visiting Palestine.

 

HMP RYE HILL RUN BY GROUP 4 FALCK/ISRAELI LINKS
By citing the Jewish media’s representation of the case and the present political climate in refusing Jawad’s application for de-categorisation is of a disturbing nature. Even more disturbing is the fact that Group 4 FALCK, the company that runs some private prisons in the UK, including Rye Hill, has a 50% stake in Hashmira, an Israeli security company and the largest employer in that country. The latter (did employ) armed guards for Israeli settlements. It states all its security personnel are ‘all veterans of combat units’ and that ‘it has a powerful bond with the political and security development of the State of Israel’.

Group 4 FALCK forced to pull out of Israeli Settlements in West Bank
The Guardian in 2002, revealed intimidation and harassment of Palestinian villagers by Group 4’s armed company workers and Israeli settlers. Pressure by Danish MP’s (company based in Denmark) and human rights activists resulted in the company pulling out its personnel from the West Bank.

Blunders at home!
Group 4 FALCK runs some of the private prisons in the UK, including HMP Rye Hill where Jawad is held. It also operates the prisoner transfer business and believe it or not has a subsidiary operating CGHQ in Cheltenham.

Group 4 has a history of blunders operating the prison service:
• Yarl’s Wood Detention Centre for Asylum Seekers in Bedfordshire was burnt down and Group 4 was found to be ill equipped to deal with outbreaks of protest. In April 2004 a Prison Ombudsman investigation found staff guilty of racist language and excessive use of control and restraint.
• In April 2004 a lifer prisoner escaped from HMP Rye Hill;
• In 1993 lost several charges during a prison escort operation;
• Criticised for poor management and use of excessive force at Medway Security Training Centre for Youth ;
• In December 2001 Group 4 vehicle crashed resulting in escape of prisoner;
• In October 2001 allowed prisoners to escape from Peterborough Crown Court;
• In 1999 lost its management of Buckley Hall Prison in Rochdale.

 

OTHER UPDATES
Samar and Jawad’s application to the European Court of Human Rights maybe heard this year. (The case relates to Article 6 of European Convention concerning breaches of a fair trial guarantees).
Also there may be a decision to go to the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) to investigate their wrongful convictions and refer them back to the Court of Appeal.