Law Detainees ‘Depressed’
Detainees held without trial under the Anti-Terrorism Act have suffered serious damage to their mental health, researchers said.
Following independent assessment, eight detainees held at Belmarsh Prison were all found to be clinically depressed. Several had experienced post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The indefinite nature of detention was a major factor in the deterioration of the detainees’ mental state and that of their wives, the researchers found, with the problems experienced being similar to those of prolonged immigration detention.
The results of 48 reports written by 11 consultant psychiatrists and a consultant clinical psychologist are published in a paper in November’s Psychiatric Bulletin.
The paper concludes: « There is strong consensus among clinicians that indefinite detention per se is directly linked to deterioration in mental health and that the fluctuations in mental state are related to the prison regime itself and to the vagaries of the appeal system.
« While indefinite detention continues, it is highly unlikely that the prison healthcare system will be able to combat detainees’ deterioration in mental health.
« This is not a criticism of the prison psychiatric in-reach team, but rather an acknowledgement of the extent of the damage that indefinite detention without trial gives rise to. »
The detainees, six from Algeria, one from Tunisia and one from Gaza, were all being held under the Anti-Terrorism Crime and Security Act 2001. A number had been held since December 2001.
They were released in March 2005 under control order restrictions after the House of Lords ruled indefinite detention without trial was contrary to fundamental legal principles.
According to the study, four of the detainees had a previous psychiatric history and three a clear family history of mental health problems. Three had experienced previous detention and torture, and all had been in situations of political instability. All were devout Muslims and originated from countries where mental illness is highly stigmatised
SOURCE: The Scotsman