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European Commission Of Human Rights (Prisoners' Applications)

Volume 986: debated on Wednesday 18 June 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether he will make a statement on the consideration given by the European Commission of Human Rights to the application made by certain prisoners at Her Majesty's prison. Maze.

The European Commission of Human Rights has now made a partial decision on the admissibility of an application brought by four prisoners who have been engaged in the "dirty" protest at Her Majesty's prison, Maze. This application included the accusation that the protesting prisoners had been subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment contrary to article 3 of the convention, and a claim that they should receive a special status which would entitle them to more favourable treatment than that accorded to other convicted prisoners in Northern Ireland.The Commission has declared inadmissible that accusation and rejected that claim. It has declared inadmissible the whole of the application except for two particular aspects on whose admissibility it has not yet reached a decision. These aspects concern prisoners' rights to correspondence and the effectiveness of national remedies for prisoners' complaints.This decision clears away the carefully fostered belief that the human rights of the prisoners engaged in the protest have been interfered with. The conditions in which protesting prisoners live at Her Majesty's prison Maze are caused by their own actions. The Commission has recognised this fact.As I have said before, it is for the prisoners themselves to end their self-imposed deprivations and take full advantage of the excellent vocational and recreational facilities available to them ; I hope that this decision will encourage them to do so. I commend the prison staff, who carry out their difficult and unpleasant tasks with exemplary restraint, fairness and dedication.