Appendix 8: Submission from Peace and Justice
in East London
The following submission is put on behalf of members
of the multi-faith group Peace & Justice in east London. The
group has closely monitored the situation with the individuals
first being detained without trial and later released into house
arrest under control orders. A number of the men were re-arrested
last August following the London bombings pending deportation.
Since then, some of the men have been bailed under conditions
practically identical to those operating when under control orders.
Adrienne Burrows of Peace & Justice in east London
has been vetted for two of the men and has been supporting them
and their families over recent weeks. She has first hand knowledge
of the suffering of the men and their families under control order
conditions. Tim Wardle has made his home available as a bail address
and had one of the detainees staying with him.
The Peace & Justice in east London group also
monitored what became known as the ricin trialwhere no
ricin was found. This trial lasted for many months resulting in
the acquittal last April of all concerned, except Kamal Bourgass
who received a 17 year sentence for public nuisance. A number
of these individuals were also re-arrested in September following
the London bombings despite being cleared by a court of law. Some
of them have been bailed pending deportation also. Olive Flynn
of Peace & Justice in east London stood surety for one of
Adrienne Burrows tells of her experience in the first
case. The second contribution reflects the thoughts and feelings
of another man Adrienne has contact with. The third account is
told by Olive Flynn.
Adrienne Burrows -
"The details given below are typical of the
control order regime and the difficulties encountered are repeated
in many other cases. The corrosive effect of control orders on
the lives of the people involved can only be appreciated by engaging
with the details of the restrictions, both large and small, governing
daily life. These are far too numerous to deal with fully here.
* One man has already experienced three separate
periods of detention with different regulations. First a period
of full house arrest lasting nine months (the worst experience),
followed by four months of control order (dusk till dawn curfew
plus tagging, monitoring and numerous other restrictions), followed
by rearrest, then bail with conditions even stricter than control
orders. Many of the issues raised affect all three periods of
A matter of real concern has been the denial of access
to worship freely. "There has been no access to the mosque.
I have been unable to perform Friday prayers at the mosque ( two
hours, once a week). Even in prison the right to take part in
Friday prayers together is respected. I cannot attend the mosque
for the world wide celebration of Eid - every Muslim should attend
the mosque," said the man. "We cannot take part in the
daily early evening prayers during Ramadan (30 days) a very holy
month for Muslims. No Imam has been cleared to read the Koran
or to visit. All these things are allowed in prison."
Another concern is medical issues. The man concerned
suffered from polio and has had mental health issues in recent
years as a direct result of his indefinite detention and harsh
conditions. He has been out of prison now for three months under
bail conditions. During this time his physiotherapist has not
been cleared to see him for the essential work on his legs. She
has been his physio for many years and cleared on previous occasions
but new clearance was asked for the new conditions. Lack of treatment
has brought about deteriorationhe's now confined to a wheelchair
instead of being able to walk on crutches. He uses plastic leg
splintsall hospital appointments to do with these have
to be requested by solicitor and given clearance. One such essential
visit has been cancelled in the last few days because clearance
was not given in time. The GP is only 10 minutes away but is not
allowed to visit, each visit has to be cleared by the Home Office.
Mental health has been another problem area. During
the recent period since leaving prison he was at first unable
to get access to his psychiatrist. This was badly needed because
he had spent most of the four months in prison in the Health Care
Unit under special treatment for mental health crisis. (Even in
prison he was only allowed one 10 minute session with a physiotherapist
in the whole four months.) When a psychiatrist was cleared he
asked the Home Office to allow access to the hospital day centre
for occupational therapy for a couple of hours each day. A Home
Office decision on this request has still not been given. No activity
or therapy has been allowed up till now during this bail condition
Social isolation is another feature of control orders.
The family has no visitors or guests and this applies to the whole
family, not just the man under restrictions. All visitors need
to be vetted. They are a refugee family and so most of their friends
are also refugees. Traditionally visits would be gender divided,
therefore the wife's friends would be women with whom her husband
would not have any contact during their time in the flat. But
all her visitors still have to be vetted and no one in their circle
would want to risk being tarred with the same brush of suspicion
and fear is strong in the community on such matters. Even her
sister who had been cleared for a previous visit was forced to
stay elsewhere at the last minute when she arrived as planned
from abroad with her baby to see her sick sister. New vetting
was called for by the Home Office. I was called to deliver food
to the visitor and her child in their temporary accommodation
away from the family home.
If anything happensif anyone needs to repair
things in the flat, as when the hot water system broke down, or
the washing machineany one coming into the flat has to
be cleared, and this takes time.
The man's wife was recently hospitalised for several
weeks bringing difficulties for father and child. Agreements had
to be reached to allow the father to take and fetch the child
to and from school. On one occasion I was called to take the child
to school. Visiting the hospital also brought problems. The wife
is still not well enough to deal with these tasks and with shopping.
The father is now allowed out on the school walk and allowed 15
to 20 minutes for a few shopping trips to the local shop each
week. All trips out of the house have to be registered before
and after by phone calls. And this is in addition to the fact
that the man is tagged. As for the taggingthe wife says
"It has become normal but shouldn't be normalcontrolling
The phone-calls on this issue average around eight
a day and have increased recently. The tagging company phone even
when they know he is out - and the wife has to say that he's not
If there's the slightest fault in the tagging equipment,
the police are called and arrive with the tagging company (two
police and three taggers) - at times like 2.30 or 3.00 in the
morning. Once when the father was collecting the child, the Home
Office people arrived and demanded that the wife let them in so
that they could question her about the state of her health. They
have no right to do this. The sick woman suffered severe stress
in this situation. At a later date I witnessed the Home Office
official call the wife into the living room to be questioned about
her state of health.
Other than these domestic trips, he is not allowed
time out and has no access to library, school or colleges for
study etc. He does not enter anywhere where internet is in use
as he is prohibited to access it. He is not allowed to use a mobile
or any phone at all other than the land line in his home. No mobile
phones can be used by anyone in the home. His own computer was
inspected by the Home Office and returned to him broken.
The consequence for the family is that they have
lost hope. This situation seems indefinite - it may never end.
The wife suffers extreme stress, severe headaches and eczema.
She says "Every day you live in fear and every day you have
more fear." Since she has been ill, a psychiatrist has been
cleared to visit her. A nurse has refused to be cleared. The family
is constantly aware that a rearrest could come at any time.
The effects on a child who has grown up in this country
with the idea that a visit from the police or Home Office could
be to take father away, can be imagined. The child also suffers
symptoms of stress. "They have done this and they are abusing
their power". His wife says "These people are doing
a great job at destroying my life and my family's life."
* A second man under control order type conditions
expressed the following sentiments - "This is madness, this
is torture".. "We are the mice in a government experiment"
.."A control order is like being in a space capsule isolated
from the world".. "It is not physical torture but mentaldriving
you to madness".. "It is torture for the family, paying
the price for what they didn't do".. " A control order
is a punishment for someone who hasn't been convicted of anythingespecially
for anyone disabled"
.."We suffer under control ordersdisorientation,
no way of knowing when this will end or what will happen nextwaiting
for rearrest?".. "It is like being part of a game -
they are playing with us. You are not in control of your life,
someone is in control of it".. "You cannot think properlyyou
have to think twice before doing simple things like going shopping.
If you make a mistake you will be rearrested. Even the little
freedom they give you is controlled by these conditions. If you
make a joke on the phone, just for a laugh to forget the situation
you are in, you still have to be careful what you saythey
are going to take it seriously". "You live in total
anxiety and fear and depression. The control order drives you
to madness". "You feel like you're in a maze with no
way out." "There are so many restrictions, you can't
go to a library or a college because they have internet. You feel
isolatednot in the real world".." There is no
'daily life' for you and your 'entourage'"
Olive Flynn -
* One of the men acquitted in "the ricin trial"
was on bail from March to September 2005. He did not breach any
bail conditions but was rearrested in September. He was injured
during his arrest, despite offering no resistance. The arrest
was conducted in a high profile way. At the reception of Belmarsh
Prison he asked for his injuries to be photographed but this was
not done. He was later transferred to Long Lartin and put on suicide
watch. When I saw him in September, before his arrest he was a
healthy 27 year old man. When I saw him again on 27 January he
was a mental and physical wreck. He is in pain as he limps.
This man has been bailed under control order conditions
that allow him to go out for six hours of each day. He has to
report to a police station each day. All visitors coming to see
him have to be vetted. If he wants to visit someone he has to
give three days notice to the authorities. He has been tagged.
3 February 2006