Significant deterioration to detainees’ mental health

December 22, 2004

Written by Harmit Athwal

The Royal College of Psychiatrists has stated that the ‘sense of powerlessness’ experienced by the Belmarsh detainees ‘is likely to cause significant deterioration to [their] mental health’.

The College is asking the government to consider these findings when the government ponders its response to the recent House of Lords ruling that the detention of the men was ‘unlawful’, (see IRR News Story – Law Lords rule ‘terror detentions’ discriminatory and disproportionate) and considers new laws in the new year. The organisation’s findings are even more significant as, in recent weeks, another two men reportedly in a ‘life-threatening condition’ have been moved from Belmarsh to the maximum-security Broadmoor Hospital, where Mahmoud Abu Rideh has been detained since July 2002.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists found that:

  • The particular circumstances of this group’s detention contribute significantly to their mental health problems;
  • Indeterminate detention, lack of normal due legal process and the resultant sense of powerlessness, is likely to cause significant deterioration to detainees’ mental health.

In October, eleven psychiatrists and one psychologist published research on the mental health of the men detained under the ATCSA (see IRR News Story – The psychological toll of ATCSA detention). They found that there had been a ‘progressive deterioration in the mental health of all those detainees and their families’. And now, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, a professional body, has backed the findings.

Related links

Royal College of Psychiatrists

Campaign Against Criminalising Communities

Stop Political Terror

The Institute of Race Relations is precluded from expressing a corporate view: any opinions expressed are therefore those of the authors.

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