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Prisoner ‘placed in indefinite isolation’ because she is transgender

Josh Jackman February 22, 2017
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A convicted murderer who has been placed in indefinite isolation because she is transgender has told the High Court her human rights are being violated.

The 33-year-old vigilante paedophile hunter, formerly known as Christopher Hunnisett, was jailed for life in 2012 for murdering Peter Bick, who she falsely thought was a paedophile.

She this week accused prison staff at the all-male HMP Frankland in Durham of violating her human rights by holding her in isolation because she is transgender, according to Chronicle Live.

Hunnisett, who made a “hit list” of men she planned to kill in a bid to rid the world of paedophiles, bludgeoned Mr Bick with a hammer and strangled him with a shoelace after having sex with him at his home.

The High Court heard that in October 2015, Hunnisett told officers she was a woman.

She was subsequently placed in isolation for “her safety”.

However, Hunnisett was denied a transfer to a wing for vulnerable prisoners – over fears for the other occupants’ safety. Her past statements about paedophiles made officials wary, considering that many of the prisoners there have been convicted of sexual offences against children.

She told the court this means she cannot access the education, work, church and visiting opportunities other prisoners can.

“Being isolated for a year now is enough to drive any person crazy,” she told Mr Justice Langstaff.

She described the drastic actions she had taken to change her physical appearance, telling the court: “I have cut off my testicles and sliced the shaft of my penis in half.”

She told the court: “Prison staff continued to refer to me as ‘he’ or ‘him’, showing their contempt towards transgender prisoners.”

Hunnisett also said the prison had shown her a “lack of respect” by calling her actions a “self-harm surgery.”

Despite this, the judge denied her a judicial review.

“This court is not, as part of its duties, required to manage prisons,” Mr Justice Langstaff told Hunnisett, adding to the court: “It is a fact that she is transgender.

“It is a fact that, as a result of that, she may suffer a greater risk from other people than she otherwise would.”

However, he said it was “an obligation of the prison to protect so far as it can from such risks,” rather than that of his court.

The use of indefinite solitary confinement or isolation is considered torture under United Nations guidelines.

A string of transgender women have been found dead in all-male prisons in the past year.

The UK government had promised a review in 2015 of the way trans people in prisons are dealt with, after two female prisoners died within weeks of each other while being held in all-male facilities.

The review finished in November, with the Ministry of Justice introducing ‘safeguards’ to ensure that transgender people would not be put at risk, and would not routinely be held in prisons inconsistent with their gender.

Related topics: Durham, prison, Transgender

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