Secret Prisoners - the campaign continues
There have been two stories related to secret imprisonment reported today. One by PA has been published in a number of outlets including This one
. The other was in the Daily Mail.
The cases have a number of common features. Someone is imprisoned "for their own good". There are all sorts of assessments as to their capacity. In the end they have run away and are not now in the English and Welsh jurisdiction.
In the Kathy Danby case (which relates to her granddaughter) Kathy was imprisoned for meeting her. The judge at the time said Granny (aged in her 70s) had to be imprisoned because when she met her granddaughter afterwards the granddaughter was upset and tried to run away. From a scientific perspective it is a fact that the granddaughter ran away. However, she continued running away even though she had not met her grandmother for 2 1/2 years. I would argue, therefore, that the evidence is that she runs away because she is not happy having her liberty constrained by the state.
This is actually a common problem with care proceedings of all sorts. Children are upset when they stop seeing their relatives. Hence contact is stopped. This used to happen with hospital visiting, but the issue was studied and it was found that the psychological trauma caused by stopping contact was in fact much greater than the superficial upset cased by breaks in contact. Hence parents were encouraged to visit children in hospital and potentially stay overnight. The Danish care system recognises this as well. However, the English care system takes a very different attitude. I have seen evidence to substantiate the argument that the approach in England is wrong. I have seen no evidence to substantiate the argument that it is right.
In the second case the courts relied on an international treaty that had not been ratified either by Canada or Zimbawe to imprison a 15 year old (now 16 year old) boy who had no right to remain in the country beyond a visit. Because he had no valid immigration status he could not be educated. Unsurprisingly he tried to escape this, but was recaptured on a number of occasions until he did a Julian Assange and went to live in the Zimbabwean Embassy. He then escaped from there to Zimbabwe.
It sounds absurd. However, it did happen.
In both cases reporting restrictions act to prevent the prisoner from speaking out and challenging the claims of the state against them. Where is the accountability in this?
It should be remembered that the courts rely on expert "opinion". This is the opinion of employees of the local authority and other people who depend on the la for their income. This does not strike me as "independent" expert opinion.
In the second case I have seen reports on the 16 year old from Zimbabwe. These show very little in common with the assertions from the English experts that were used to justify imprisoning the person concerned for about a year.