13th April 2014: On Thursday at the European Parliament in Brussels, Andrew Brons made the following contribution to a debate in the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee (LIBE) on prison conditions in Italy.
"I noticed, on the second page of the Report, that of the 60,828 detainees, 29,000 – almost half of them - were foreign citizens, mainly from Romania, Morocco, Albania and Tunisia. I am reliably informed that a disproportionate number of the Romanian citizens detained were from the Roma community.
"Is this yet another example of wicked discrimination against certain ethnic groups? If it should not be capable of being explained as discrimination, there would be only one other explanation. That would be the explanation that dare not speak its name as Oscar Wilde might have called it!
"That being said, the Report and many of the proposals were impressive and shocking and many of the proposals were reasoned and constructive. Even the 60% of the prison population who had been convicted and sentenced, had not been sentenced to endure sub-human conditions.
"Torture was mentioned and it cannot be tolerated under any conditions or circumstances. However, torture has been routinely used by some countries in which torture is a specific criminal offence.
"We now know that the UK Government of Tony Blair, that co-operated with the US Government on special rendition knew of the torture that was used on suspects.
"Until political leaders who indulge in, or condone torture, are brought to account, the issue of torture in this or that prison will not be addressed."