Marian Price Release Welcomed
Rights Watch (UK) welcomes the release of Marian Price from custody. We hope that any outstanding criminal charges pending against her can be dealt with expeditiously by the judicial system in Northern Ireland.
Her case has demonstrated further fissures in the criminal justice system in Northern Ireland following the devolution of policing and criminal justice in after the Hillsborough Agreement of 2010. Her case also demonstrates the residual power of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in matters of security and in controversial historical cases. In addition, the reliance by the state on closed material procedures in alleged terrorist cases is controversial and in this is of particular concern in that the Parole Commissioners, who are not members of the independent judiciary in Northern Ireland but are state appointed officers, and who were the determining agents in determining the conditional freedom
of Marian Price.
It is to be expected that the role of the Parole Commissioners in this case, their accountability and authority, be put to the scrutiny of the Northern Ireland Assembly Justice Committee. The Parole Commissioners in effect gave authority to the decision of a judge made two years ago that Marian Price should be released on bail pending the investigations of the PSNI. It was this decision that the then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland ignored in his evoking his powers in relation to categories of individuals released on licence thus directly interfering in the indepedence of the judiciary in Northern Ireland.
Further, the powers that could have released Marian Price on compassionate grounds that were held by the Minister of Justice for Northern Ireland were not exercised and therefore may have served to exacerbate her declining medical and psychological condition as her imprisonment was prolonged.
RW(UK) will be making submissions to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) by 17 June 2013 ahead of the examination of the UK Government on their women’s rights record in July 2013 in relation to the case of Marian Price. Our submission will argue that Marian Price suffered discrimination in electing to be remanded in the separate regime of Roe House, HMP Maghaberry thus forcing her into a self-made state of solitary confinement as the Northern Ireland prison estate has no facility to separately detain female prisoners who elect a separate regime as agreed and recommended under the proposals of Sir John Steele in 2003.
She was held in a similar state of isolation when moved to HMP Hydebank Wood. Finally, we continue to express concern regarding the provision of medical treatment and client-doctor confidentiality in the case of Marian Price (which prompted us to complain to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health). There needs to be a protocol, monitored by the Northern Ireland Criminal Justice Inspectorate, regarding healthcare provision and confidentiality for those in the prison estate, implementing Rule 42.3a of the European Prison Rules 2006.