A protest is to be held in Derry to mark the 900th day of Tony Taylor’s internment at Maghaberry Prison.
A former spokesperson for the Republican Network for Unity, Mr Taylor’s continued detention is not based on a criminal charge or a court decision but on the basis of closed material known as “secret intelligence”. Neither he nor his legal team have been given access to this alleged information.
In March 2016, the veteran activist was ordered to be imprisoned by the British Direct Ruler who revoked his release licence. He was arrested on the street in Derry while on a shopping trip with his family and was brought to Maghaberry prison, where he has remained.
Campaigners have said that the move was in contravention of the North’s Criminal Justice Order 2008. In a statement to announce a rally to push for Mr Taylor’s freedom, they denounced the secretive process by which Mr Taylor has been held without charge or trial:
“The Closed Material Process has been widely condemned by human rights groups and even by senior members of the British Judiciary, notably, by the late Law Lord Bingham who stated during a case involving a parole board in 2003 that to be detained without charge, trial or knowledge of the case against you is a ‘grave intrusion on an individual’s rights’.
“In the same case Bingham went on to describe the role of the state-appointed Special Advocate as being akin to ‘taking blind shots at a hidden target’.
“When intelligence which does not warrant a criminal charge is withheld from the internee and his legal team, then we are right to assume that such intelligence would not stand up to legal or independent scrutiny.
“And with the pattern emerging we must further question if this process is being unfairly used against ex-prisoners released on licence and others for the purpose of curtailing political activism as opposed to dealing with unlawful activity.”
They said the wider community now recognise the treatment of Tony Taylor as internment under the guise of licence revocation.
“Internment has been used in every decade of the Stormont regime and has served only to fuel division, discontent and deepen distrust. It failed in the past and it will again.
“The use of the word internment has been disputed in Tony’s case but the fact that he is being detained in the absence of due process cannot be.
“The replacing of due process with a closed process further gives legitimacy to the belief that the law is again being used as a mere “propaganda cover for the disposal of unwanted members of the public”. Internment.
“We would call on all those respectful of human rights to join us at Free Derry Corner on Sunday 26 August 2018 at 7.30 PM for a short gathering to highlight our opposition to the internment of Tony Taylor.”