Wednesday, October 05, 2005
ALLEGATIONS OF RACISM AND BEATINGS IN BRITISH JAILS NOT BEING TAKEN SERIOUSLY
A British judge investigating the killing of teenage prisoner Zahid Mubarek has charged that allegations of racist abuse made by black and Asian inmates are not being properly investigated.
Mubarek, 19, of Walthamstow, east London, was beaten to death by his white cellmate Robert Stewart, a known racist psychopath, at Feltham young offenders' institution in west London.
The judge says that the overwhelming majority of prisoners with mental disorders were not segregated in Britain's jails.
The judge also said that he was told by jailers that allegations of racism involving just the word of an inmate against a prison officer were most often rejected out of hand.
The Scotsman reported the judge added that in cases where an allegation of racism centered on an incontrovertible fact - such as a non-white prisoner being kept on the lowest level of privileges - it appeared to him that investigators looked for ways not to find against the accused officer. He said: "At the end of the day I was not convinced that complaints were being investigated, albeit by officers of goodwill who thought that they were doing a good job. I just got the impression that there were many cases that were passing them by."
Inmates who have been interviewed or taken part in focus groups during the investigation report that allegations of racism are not taken seriously and take months even to be acknowledged. One inmate complained he had been racially abused by a prison officer in September and received a letter the following March, which was dated October, asking him if he still wanted to pursue the complaint.
Inmates reported that Muslims were often picked on for abuse. One said that a Muslim who was kneeling to pray was kicked in the backside by a warder.
Inmates from all races had little confidence that prison officers had enough racial or religious awareness to be able to "effectively offset" potential risks.
The judge conducting the investigation had previously stated, "The position of Muslims in prison is now high on the agenda - not simply because Zahid Mubarek was a Muslim, but also because of the significant increase in Muslim prisoners in recent years, and the possibility of reprisals against them by other prisoners in the wake of recent terrorist outrages."
It has also emerged that an Asian inmate was badly beaten in a racist attack weeks before Zahid Mubarek's murder at the same young offenders' institution. The teenager was left without help for 24 hours and, when he did receive treatment, needed 19 days in hospital with a broken jaw and other injuries. Sources: Huddensfield Daily Examiner (UK), Guardian, Scotsman, Hindustan Times, Islamic Forum Europe