Ike Vincent - jailed for committing the 'impossible crime'


IKE VINCENT - JAILED FOR COMMITTING THE 'IMPOSSIBLE CRIME

IKE PAULINUS VINCENT, A SUDANESE ASYLUM SEEKER, LIVES IN THE DUBLIN'S SOUTH-SIDE CRUMLIN AREA. IN FEBRUARY 2001, HE WAS IMPRISONED IN MOUNTJOY FOR 12 DAYS, ACCUSED BY THE POLICE OF A CRIME HE COULDN'T POSSIBLY COMMITÉ

IKE WAS VISITED IN HIS CRUMLIN HOME ONE EVENING BY THE LOCAL CRUMLIN POLICE. IT APPEARS THAT THE ONLY THING THEY WERE INTERESTED IN WAS HIS FIRST NAME.

"ARE YOU 'IKE'?", THEY REPEATEDLY ASKED HIM. WHEN HE REPLIED THAT HIS NAME INDEED WAS 'IKE' THEY LEFT, REFUSING TO TELL HIM WHAT THE REASONS FOR THEIR QUESTIONS OR VISIT. ON FEBRUARY 17TH THIS YEAR (ONE WEEK AFTER THEIR FIRST VISIT), THE GARDAI RETURNED WITH MORE SERIOUS INTENT. AGAIN REFUSING TO TELL IKE EXACTLY WHAT WAS GOING ON, THEY PROMPTLY TOOK HIM AND HAULED HIM OFF TO MOUNTJOY PRISON, WHERE HE WAS DETAINED UNTIL MARCH 1ST AGAINST HIS WILL.

NO CHARGES WERE BROUGHT TO BOOK.

NO EXPLANATIONS WERE GIVEN AS TO WHY IKE WAS BEING IMPRISONED.

IT WAS NOT UNTIL IKE MANAGED TO TALK TO THE PRISON CHAPLAIN, THAT HE FOUND OUT WHAT EXACTLY WAS GOING ON. APPARENTLY, A NIGERIAN MAN NAMED 'IYKE'' WILLIAMS WAS BEING SOUGHT BY THE POLICE FOR NON-PAYMENT ON HIS CAR INSURANCE.

DESPITE PROTESTATIONS THAT HE WAS NOT THE SAME MAN, THE POLICE REFUSED TO CONTEMPLATE THE POSSIBILITY THAT IKE MIGHT BE TELLING THE TRUTH. INDEED, WHEN HE EVENTUALLY GOT OUT OF PRISON ON TEMPORARY RELEASE, THE AUTHORITIES TRIED TO GET HIM TO SIGN OUT AS 'IYKE WILLIAMS'. WHEN HE WAS REQUIRED TO SIGN ON AGAIN AT THE POLICE STATION, THE GUARDS REFUSED TO ACKNOWLEDGE THAT THE CASE EVEN EXISTED AND THREATENED HIM WITH IMPRISONMENT ONCE MORE. THIS THREAT WAS REVOKED WHEN A MEMBER OF RESIDENTS AGAINST RACISM IN TURN THREATENED TO PICKET THE POLICE STATION AND MOUNTJOY PRISON SHOULD THIS OCCUR.

NO CHARGES WERE EVER BROUGHT AGAINST IKE FOR A CRIME HE DID NOT COMMIT. INDEED, THE POLICE MUST HAVE KNOWN AT A VERY EARLY STAGE THAT THEY HAD LOCKED UP THE 'WRONG MAN' - AS THERE WAS VERIFIABLE EVIDENCE OF THIS FROM A VERY GOOD SOURCE - THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, NO LESS.

THE POLICE ONLY GAVE IN AND RELEASED IKE BECAUSE IT WAS SIMPLY IMPOSSIBLE FOR HIM TO HAVE NOT PAID HIS INSURANCE. WHY?

BECAUSE THE CAR-OWNER HAD BEEN FINED FOR AN UNINSURED CAR IN DECEMBER OF 1999 - WHILE IKE'S PAPERS CONFIRM THAT HE HAD ARRIVED IN IRELAND IN MAY 2000 - ALMOST FIVE MONTHS AFTER THE CRIME HAD BEEN COMMITTED!

SUBSEQUENT TO IKE'S RELEASE, RAR CONTACTED THE IMMIGRATION POLICE ABOUT THIS CASE, ONLY TO BE TOLD THAT 'THESE PEOPLE HAVE 3 OR 4 IDENTITIES - IT WAS OBVIOUSLY THE SAME MAN'''.

RESIDENTS AGAINST RACISM HAVE BEEN CAMPAIGNING AGAINST RACIST HARASSMENT BY THE POLICE IN THE CRUMLIN AREA SINCE THE BELMONDO WANTETE CASE IN 1998. IT WOULD SEEM THAT FEW LESSONS HAVE BEEN LEARNED BY THE GARDAI IN ALL THIS TIME, AND THAT THE GARDA INTERCULTURAL UNIT HAS SOME WAY TO GO BEFORE IT CAN TEACH ITS OFFICERS THAT ''ONE BLACK MAN'S FACE IS NOT AS GOOD AS ANOTHER''.

IKE'S CASE HIGHLIGHTS THE GARDAI'S POOR RECORD IN ARRESTING AFRICAN MEN IN DUBIOUS CIRCUMSTANCES, AND REFUSING TO ADMIT MISTAKES WHEN THEY ARE MADE. AFTER HIS ORDEAL HE NOW HAS TO FIGHT TO STAY IN THIS COUNTRY. HE IS A TRAUMATISED MAN WHO SUFFERED TORTURE IN AFRICA AND SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO STAY IN IRELAND ON HUMANITARIAN GROUNDS.

IKE'S SOLICITORS ARE CURRENTLY CONSIDERING TAKING A CASE AGAINST THE GARDAI - BUT THERE ARE FURTHER, LONG-TERM IMPLICATIONS FROM THIS EXAMPLE OF STATE RACISM. THE GARDAI CANNOT BE BROUGHT TO ACCOUNT IN THIS AND OTHER CASES WHERE ABUSES OF HUMAN RIGHTS HAVE BEEN EXPOSED.

ANY COMPLAINTS BROUGHT BEFORE THE GARDA COMPLAINTS BOARD ARE INVESTIGATED HALF-HEARTEDLY - BY THE GARDAI THEMSELVES!

RESIDENTS AGAINST RACISM DEMAND:

¥ THAT THE GARDAI MAKE A FULL APOLOGY FOR THEIR BEHAVIOUR IN THE CASE OF IKE PAULINUS VINCENT.

¥ THAT AN INDEPENDENT COMPLAINTS BOARD BE ESTABLISHED SUCH THAT MONITORING OF THE GARDAI IS TRANSPARENT, ACCOUNTABLE AND FAIR.

August, 2001


To Residents against Racism