26-12-09

Violation of human rights in belgian prisons

 

 

BELGIAN PRISONS - SICK PRISONNERS: LETTER TO THE REPRESENTATIVES
 
Brussels, 22.12.2009
 
Your Excellencies,
Dear Sir/Madam
 
We would like to adress to you a solemn request for help ,
hoping that you will all put pressure on the Minister of Justice, in order to persuade him of the fact that it is extremely urgent to see to it that Marcel Vervloesem is transferred to a hospital. Because that is what the docter of the prison of Turnhout explicitly demands as a result of the fact that Mr. Marcel Vervloesem is in this very moment verging on a life-threatening diabetic coma, -having a glychemia-level that that is so high it can't be measured any more-, and in order to have his medical treatment reevaluated, which can only be done in a hospital-environment, after his having first been treated in the reanimation-ward.
 
The belgian government, the Minister of Justice, the direction of the prison, and the belgian and european representatives have all been regularly informed by different associations such as ours about this case, i.e. about the unwearthy and inhumane manner in which this exceptionnal pisoner is treated, -a manner that is comparable to torture. Every one of them has been informed since the fifth of september 2008 about the systematic way in which Marcel Vervloesem has been denied  every kind of proper medical care, which causes him to be in continuous life-threatening danger. Marcel Vervloesem has lost 16 pounds of weight over these three last weeks, and that is a clear sign of the fact that his cancer has spread for the fourth time. This cancer of his has never been poperly treated,  despite of the fact that the prison-docter has filed an official request  for a medical treatment-plan on september 10 2008. At this very moment he can hardly stand on his feet anymore, he is suffering from nausea, he has to throw up all the time, and he is dizzy all the time: all these are signs that he is in a pre-comatose state.
 
Allready in the year 2005, when Mr. Vervloesem was illegally incarcerated (incarceration which has been brought to the attention of the European Court of Human Rihgts), an official of the Ministry of Justice had replied to the question whether it was normal that a patient suffering from a heart-condition was wakened-up every 15 minutes, that:
'Of course we don't wake him up every 15 minutes: we just want to be sure that he's still alive.' From that time on, the Minister of Justice, through the official organisations that are answerable to him, officially accuses Marcel Vervloesem because of the fact that he is in touch with NGOs which are defending Human Rights, and which publicize their messages through the Internet. Ever since, the various officials involved, only reply to our letters and telephone calls, by systematically repeating the same evasive phrases.
 
Last week, Jan Boeykens, the president of the NGO 'Werkgroep Morkhoven', has contacted by e-mail and by phone the General Direction of the Penitentiary Institutions, and the MInister of Justice, in an effort to remind them of the urgent need Marcel is in to receive medical treatment in a hospital. He once again called them today, 21 december 2009, but before noon every one of them was busy 'attending a meeting'. He has talked to Luc Stas, a dutch-speaking advisor of the Minister of Justice Stefaan de Clerck, who replied to him that 'he could not reply to questions about detainees over the telephone', after which he hung up on him. He allso talked to Lieselot Bleyenberg, vice-spokeswoman of the Minister, and she replied that she would contact the medical service. He allso tried to talk to an employée of the General Direction of the Penenentiary Institutions in Brussels, Vanessa Bury, who is supposes to be following Marcel's case, but once again, she allso was 'attending a meeting'.
 
An other official told us to contact the docter or the director of the prison. Well, Eric Geudens, member of the direction of the prison of Turnhout, has told Raf Jespers, Marcel's lawyer, that 'everything was all right with Marcel'.
In october 2008, this same man, Eric Geudens, replied on the telephone that 'the physical condition Marcel Vervloesem is in doesn't necessitate his hospitalization'. The day after that, Marcel only had 24 heart beats per minute, and subsequently they had to urgently transfer him to the hospital, where it took the docters 13 hours to reanimate him.
 
It is clear that the MInister wants to disguise the irresponsable acts of his officials, for example by telling to the NGO's that the guards of the prison have to control every fifteen mintutes if the prisoners who are ill, are still alive. Ever since, the officials systematically blame the lawyers if anything goes wrong (thus suggesting that Marcel's lawyer is completely useless), or the director of the prison or its docter. Unfortunately for them, an article appeared in the news-paper 'Het nieuwsblad' on the tenth of (?) 2008, which proved that it had been the departments which are aswerable to the Ministery of Justice in Brussels, that had opposed the hospitalization of Marcel Vervloesem, despite the fact that the docter of the Turnhout prison had requested exactly that.
This order not to hospitalize Marcel, was the reason that the ambulance that had been called by the docter, had to be send away.
 
In March 2009, the Minister of Justice provided Mr. Vevloesem with a pill that would provoke a cardiac arrest.
 
On the 26th of june 2009, the judge of the Court for the implementation of criminal punishments, declared in his verdict,  that 'ONLY THE MINISTER CAN DECIDE ON THE ISSUE OF WHETHER A PRISONER IS INTITLED TO A CONDITIONAL LEAVE ON MEDICAL GROUNDS', which verdict has been confirmed by the High Court.
 
On the 13th of july 2009, in his response letter to Paul van Buitenen, member of the European Parliament, the Minister of Justice has stated that he isn't allowed to act in this matter, because of the law issued on May 17 2006 concerning (...) the decision to carry out an electronic surveillance measure, depends exclusively upon the judgement of the court for the implementation of criminal punishments.
 
On the 4th of semptember 2009, in his answer to the parliamentary question nr. 4-3231,  the Minister of Justice has confirmed the fact that article eleven of this law, which has been approved by parliament, in which it says that the exclusive right to judge upon matters concerning the conditional release of prisoners on the ground of medical reasons belongs to this court, cannot be applied, because of 'the overcrowdedness of our prisons', but that this fact 'would not cause any prejudice to the prisoners in this country.'
 
Our organization has sent a registered letter to Mr. Stefaan de Clerck, to inform him personally about the very severe illnesses that Marcel Vervloesem is suffering from, and about the need there is to allow him a conditional release on the ground of medical reasons. We are still waiting for his reply..
 
Anyway, the responsbalitlity of the belgian gouvernment, which is perfectly  informed about the situation, appears to be total regarding the following accusations.
 
1) multiple instances of negligence with regard to a person who finds himself in immediate life-threathening danger.
2) blockage of the application of the law on conditional release for medical reasons, and on the right of prisoners to the same quality of medical care as any free person can receive.
 
Therefore, we make a point of calling for your urgent help, because this seems to be the only appropriate thing for us to do in this serious situation. Not a single institution which should assume the responsibility for this seems to be ready to properly and duly react to the needs of a dying man, by helping him at least to relieve the uttermost pain and suffering he is going through. Each and every day he lives is of vital importance to Marcel, because each and every day is slowly but fatally bringing him closer to death.
 
Yours truly,
 
Martine Mangione
 
President of the Marcel Vervloesem association- Tevirepedo

------------------------------

From: Tevirepedo Tevirepedo@droitfondamental.eu
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cc: antwerp progresslaw.net, Jan Boeykens werkgroepmorkhoven, oip oipbelgique
Date: 22.12.2009
Subject: Marcel Vervloesem, a call for urgent assistence

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