UN to investigate RUC

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The United Nations has announced an investigation into allegations of intimidation and harassment of defence lawyers by the RUC. Param Cumaraswami, The UN special rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, will arrive in Northern Ireland next week on a 10-day fact-finding mission to examine claims of threatening behaviour, harassing phone calls and discriminatory prison treatment.

The investigation was initiated following what UN sources described as "consistent and numerous" complaints from lawyers via human rights organisations over the last three years.

Mr Cumaraswami will also investigate claims that terrorist prisoners have had difficulty getting access to legal advice and representation. He will look into regulations under which prisoners accused of terrorist offences can only receive close visits from their lawyers if they are separated by a screen.

- Harriet Martin