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Northern Ireland: Damning solitary confinement report 'must be catalyst for change'

Responding to a critical report, published today by Criminal Justice Inspection, which found that the use of Care and Supervision Units in Northern Ireland prisons does not meet the United Nations basic minimum standards, Patrick Corrigan, Northern Ireland director of Amnesty International said:

“This shocking report is just the latest investigation to find that Northern Ireland’s prisons are failing to treat prisoners with the dignity to which they have a right.

“The United Nations’ top expert on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment has called for solitary confinement to be used only in very exceptional circumstances, as a last resort, and for as short a time as possible.

“Yet this report shows that, too often, prisoners are being committed to solitary confinement – a prison within a prison – for prolonged periods, in some cases months on end.

“The effect of extended solitary confinement for prisoners with existing severe mental health needs is deeply worrying. Such lengthy confinement amounts not just to physical torture but mental torture, particularly for those who are already suffering severe mental ill-health.

“This damning report must be the catalyst for fundamental change within Northern Ireland’s prison system. The Justice Minister is to be commended for commissioning this investigation. She must now ensure that its recommendations are implemented in full and without delay.”



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