Rachid Ramda, an Algerian asylum seeker, has been detained in Belmarsh maximum security prison for the last nine years – even though he has not been convicted of any crime.
Rachid was initially arrested on an extradition warrant from France in 1995 in connection with bomb attacks in Paris. In June 2002, the High Court refused to extradite him after it found that the key evidence provided by the French authorities was inconsistent and had been obtained by beating and otherwise ill-treating another man arrested in connection with the case. It found that there was a ‘real risk’ that Rachid would suffer ill-treatment if he were sent back to France.
Rachid spent the first six years of his detention in a Special Secure Unit (SSU), where his mental and physical health suffered. But he now acts as a lifeline for others and interprets for some of the men held without charge under the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001.
Right to education
After his six years in SSU, Rachid got access to education and completed an Open University course in English literature. He would like to study another two Open University subjects this year. However, the prison authorities have raised a variety of objections; the latest is funding. If Rachid is to enrol for the courses in time for the new term he needs to pay around £500. His solicitor is appealing for donations to raise this sum. If you would like to make a contribution, please send a cheque made out to ‘Birnberg Peirce & Partners’ (with a note saying it is for Rachid’s education) to Rachid’s lawyers: Daniel Guedalla, Birnberg Peirce & Partners, 14 Inverness Street, Camden Town, London NW1 7HJ. Any surplus funds raised will be spent on educational materials.