Freedom News

Protest against racism & solitary confinement in prisons

Ministry of Justice guilty of failing to protect prisoner from racist and Islamophobic abuse over many years.

WHEN: Bastille Day, Friday 14 July at 12.30pm.

WHAT: Protest outside the Ministry of Justice by the family and supporters of prisoner Kevan Thakrar to protest him being held in indefinite segregation for 13 years — most of that time in complete isolation (alone in his cell 23 hours per day).

Last November, Mr Thakrar, a Muslim man, won a court ruling against the Ministry of Justice for violating his human rights and failing to protect him from decades of “racist and religiously motivated” violence.

On 25 and 26 April this year, Mr Thakrar brought a legal challenge in the High Court against being held in segregation. He is still awaiting the results of this challenge.

The use of solitary confinement is widespread in the UK with Muslim men and men of colour disproportionately targeted — 50% of prisoners in Close Supervision Centres (segregated punishment units) are Muslim despite being only 4% of the general population. 

The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture recognised that solitary confinement amounts to a breach of Article 3 human rights – the right to life. UK prisoners testify to being denied access to food, clothes and communication with their loved ones outside prison. Some women are also in solitary confinement and because their work as the primary carers in society continues even from prison, this isolation is particularly traumatic. 

Kevan Thakrar says: 

The brutality inflicted upon the prisoners within solitary causes the majority of people to develop mental illness. . . I am constantly anxious, hypervigilant, lethargic, and feeling myself deteriorating physically and mentally.”

Mr. Thakrar received a life sentence after being convicted of murder in a case based on the discredited joint enterprise law and in a trial riddled with injustice. He has been held in solitary because he defended himself against a racist attack by guards and when the case came to court, he was exonerated.

Jean Thakrar, Kevan’s mother, who has kept his campaign alive said: 

Kev has endured more than anyone should ever have to go through. We are all proud that he’s somehow kept resisting the torture of solitary confinement and defended others.” 

Image: Guy Smallman

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