21 August 1997 Edition

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POW clothes designed to humiliate

Tar Anall spokesman Michael Ferguson has attacked the NIO for maintaining a vindictive policy on released POWs' clothes.

Ferguson says the prison authorities ``are still trying to force `civilian-type clothing' on released POWs,'' in a throwback to the 1980 Hunger Strike, when POW's were supposed to receive their own clothing.

He attacked the political reasons behind the policy as another instance of British bad faith. ``These clothes never fit properly, are unsuitable for the climate, but mostly they are issued to humiliate and degrade the prisoner.''

He has now called on the NIO to stop penalising POWs by allowing the money spent on this `civilian-type clothing' to be distributed through DHSS grants, to enable POWs to acquire more suitable clothing, not the prison garb which he describes as ``garbage which alienates people.''

Ferguson also stressed there was no reason why this policy still operated. ``The continuation of this prison practice is part of a criminalisation strategy which failed in 1981. It is time to move on.''

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