Republican News · Thursday 23 July 1998

[An Phoblacht]

European Commission to publish POWs report

The European Commission is set to publish a report in September into the conditions of political prisoners throughout the European Union, with a ``special focus on the problems of Irish prisoners in England and their families,'' Piet De Pauw, a human rights activist said.

De Pauw, a member of the Lawyers Group of Amnesty International, Flanders, has long campaigned on behalf of Irish prisoners.

The Commission report is the result of of a resolution tabled in the European parliament by a Flemish MEP and a member of the Belgian Green Party which itself came in the wake of De Pauw's own report on prisoners last autumn.

It is believed that British government efforts to delay the report's publication will prove futile as pressure on them to repatriate Irish prisoners in England is growing.

A number of European MPs appealed to the British over the last two months to allow Irish POWs to serve their sentences in Ireland and for the abolition of the Special Secure Units in England. These SSUs, which have been described by human rights groups as ``cruel and inhumane'' and ``concrete coffins'', are in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights. Both the British and Dublin governments are signatories to this Convention which also outlaws keeping prisoners under conditions which punish their families - such as imprisoning them in a foreign country and inflicting traumatic strip searchs on their relatives.

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