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Secret Prisoners

November 14, 2014 permalink

British MP John Hemming has taken up the issue of secret prisoners. From time to time courts, usually family courts, condemn someone to prison while keeping his identity secret. In Hemming's words: "people have been imprisoned for things that would not find public acceptance."



Secret Prisoners judgment comment

I am pleased with the judgment issued today from the court of appeal. My concern is to stop people being imprisoned in secret. This judgment is an important step towards that objective. There are three key things

Firstly, it recognises that a lot of people are still locked up without proper public scrutiny.

Secondly, it adds to guidance and reinforces guidance to stop this happening.

Thirdly, it ensures that there is an authority that can be used to find out who has been imprisoned if someone finds out that a secret jailing has happened.

It does not, however, as yet accept that a secret imprisonment in itself is cause for someone to be released. That is an issue that I will be looking at in more depth. It is, obviously, difficult to make an application to court for the imprisonment of someone in secret as it it is entirely secret no-one will know. Hence it is difficult to find authorities for this situation.

The problem as I see it is that people have been imprisoned for things that would not find public acceptance. To that extent were those imprisonments not secret they would be stopped. (Which, of course, is not all of the imprisonments, but some of them).

I would cite as an example the imprisonment of a grandmother for posting complaints on facebook. This happened in early 2013 in I think Wigan.

It remains, however, that the government do not seem concerned about this issue. They could easily establish a system to ensure that we know who has been imprisoned so we can check whether a public judgment is given. However, so far they have done very little - although they have reinstated the counting that was stopped.

Source: John Hemming blog