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Parole Denied To Samar And Jawad

Freedom & Justice for Samar & Jawad | 17.01.2008 11:06 | Palestine | Repression | Social Struggles | Birmingham

Jawad’s parole hearing took place on Monday 17 September 2007. Samar’s parole hearing took place on Wednesday 19 September 2007. Jawad’s application was turned down on Monday 24th of September, and Samar’s on Wednesday 26 September 2007. The legal team has lodged an appeal against this terrible injustice.

Samar Alami & Jawad Botmeh
Samar Alami & Jawad Botmeh

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The brutality of this injustice has been shocking. Jawad had already been turned down by the Home Secretary two years ago: the parole board reinforced this injustice instead of vindicating him. Samar has been waiting for two and half years for her case to be heard. To make it easier on themselves, the parole board cut and paste paragraphs from the text for Jawad and used it for Samar's parole rejection. This is symbolic of their attitude: the parole board essentially views them as two irredeemable terrorists. The board does not believe they are innocent. And in the context of continued trouble in the Middle East (both were asked what they thought of the current situation), Samar and Jawad could well re-offend, particularly since they have not, according to the board, shown repentance or addressed their offence.

Before some legal cases in 2003, the parole board regularly rejected people who refused to admit guilt before release. In fact, some prisoners stayed behind bars after their tariff expired because of that refusal. Since then, the parole board is supposed to release people on objective grounds, such as risk assessment scores, whether they took rehabilitation courses, what their plans are if they have future plans. In practice, innocent people like Samar and Jawad are still being denied parole for that reason. This new setback reflects the parole board’s close links to the Home Office and gutter press’s desire to be ‘tough on crime’ and on terrorism. The government is also cutting back the funding for Criminal Cases Review Commission, reversing attempts in the late 1990s to help reduce miscarriages of justice.

The Parole Board Decision:

* Overlooked the excellent prison behaviour that the two have maintained since 1996.

* Overlooked the fact that their risk assessment scores are so low that they should have been in open prison since 2004 (not if you are Palestinian or Muslim).

* Dismissed the dozens of supportive letters as being misguided by the belief that Samar and Jawad are innocent.

* Dismissed the fact that both took rehabilitation courses.

* Dismissed the fact that they have family and friends here and in Lebanon to look after them and live with them.

* Dismissed the political guarantees offered by Lebanon and public figures in the UK to re-assure that their release does not represent a risk.

* In Samar’s case, the board argued that they are concerned about public security in Lebanon not just in the UK. They also dismissed the urgency of her parent's very poor health because the parents are being looked after by other siblings.

Yet Samar and Jawad have seen guilty people released on parole for any one of those reasons!

The Irish and South African Experience:
In Ireland and in South Africa, even those who carried out acts of violence demonstrably stopped doing so at later stages, especially those who spent time in prison. Political prisoners are known to shift in strategy and thinking, even if guilty. So why can’t it be the case here? Are Samar and Jawad irredeemable? Even if they were involved, would they really go out and re-offend?

Are we back to the 1990s when the Home Office argued Samar and Jawad could not be decategorised because this might undermine the peace process in the Middle East? Would Samar and Jawad have received such widespread high-level and popular support if they were extremists? Isn’t this sort of injustice what inflames feelings of discrimination and damages the UK’s reputation in the Middle East?

Why is the parole board repeating the same language and reasoning that Charles Clarke spelled out in his rejection of Jawad’s application two years ago? Could they have done so if Samar and Jawad were not Arabs and Muslims?

The gist of the reasons behind the rejections are inadmissible and unjust. They are about prejudice and discrimination. Worst of all, they offer no way forward. What can you do to earn release if you have fulfilled all the objective requirements and you have passed the halfway point of your 20-year sentence? What can you do if all you say and all the positive points you earn after a decade of incarceration are dismissed as ‘self-reporting’ progress? What can a prisoner do if the system does not believe its own standards and criteria?

Samar may well apply again to this tortuous process. Jawad is focusing on the day he would have served two thirds of his sentence in August 2008 and would normally be released ... but maybe not if you are Palestinian!

Statement on the European Court of Human Rights Rejection:
On 7 June 2007, the European Court of Human Rights, after a four year wait, regrettably sided with the shameful Court of Appeal decision in 2001 to dismiss the appeal of Samar and Jawad against their conviction.

* It is deplorable for the prosecution to have claimed in 1996 that there was an “intelligence vacuum” when there are crates of material evidence pointing to suspects unrelated to Samar or Jawad.

* It is deplorable that this evidence was hidden from trial, then suppressed by ministers through gagging orders.

* It is deplorable that the judges saw fit to withhold those crates, and chose to protect governments and their secret services.

* Instead of protecting fairness of trial, this European Court ruling sanctified the ability of government to withhold vital evidence. It focused on a narrow procedural point and ignored the essence of this injustice.

To date, the fingerprints of the bombers have never been identified or linked to the appellants. To date, key questions about the bombings remain unanswered.

Being punished for being a Palestinian:
The prison service's risk assessment system was conducted on Samar several times and each time revealing a lowering of risk. On each occasion she achieved amongst the lowest ever seen (6 and 13 out of a possible 168)! Prisoners scoring between 50 and 60 can enjoy home visits and days out. However, not if you are an Arab!

Racism in the system:
Dr Young, a psychologist, was employed by the Home Office to produce a report on Samar as to her suitability for parole. Her report suggested that Samar should not be released. In Jawad's case a psychologist had twice recommended he be released, but this is not what the Home Office wanted to hear so Dr. Young was asked to report on Jawad for his second parole hearing. She claimed the previous positive conclusion by the government expert and prison staff was due to Jawad's manipulative nature, therefore recommended continued incarceration. Her report on Samar has been discredited. It was the unanimous opinion of all 6 experts engaged by the defence, that Dr young had made so many value laden statements and unsafe assumptions in the report that it had little place in a professional clinical opinion. In fact it is clear that racist and prejudicial judgments were made by her.

Snapshots from dr. Young's report: Catch 22

* Samar could use her sister's passport (as a twin) to escape!

* Samar's wearing of a headscarf and a 'make poverty history' wristband are suspicious and controversial!

* Samar's appeal to Dr. Young to hurry up with the submissions because her parents are old and in ill health shows that Samar is giving orders and being manipulative (the parole process took nearly 2 years before the final hearing)!

* Dr. Young suggested that Samar's concern about her parents means that if she does not see them before they die, then this could be a motive for her to consider attacking British targets in the Middle East if released!

* Dr.Young suggested that Samar could be manipulated by terrorist groups because she openly believes in human rights!

What you can do:

* Provide a new reference to support Samar’s second application.

* Write to your MP or J.Straw about this miscarriage of justice. Remind them that such injustice hinders public safety, undermines political moderation and tarnishes the UK's reputation in the Middle East.

* Write to Samar and Jawad.

Samar Alami
HMP Send
Ripley Road
GU23 7LJ

Jawad Botmeh
HMP Rye Hill
CV23 8SZ

Randa Alami for

Freedom & Justice for Samar & Jawad
London WC1N 3XX

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Display the following 3 comments

  1. Unity — Ilyan
  2. Undermine — Talibanwr