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Row over census firm's Abu Ghraib connection

Source: The Herald
This article appeared in the print edition of the Herald on Saturday 12 May 2012

The trial of Barbara Dowling, scheduled for Tuesday 15 May 2012, was deferred at an intermediate diet held in Glasgow Sheriff Court on Monday. The trial has been re-scheduled for 25 September 2012.

A HUMAN rights group is calling for a public inquiry into the decision to award the census contract to a firm whose parent company is linked with a notorious Iraqi prison.

Scotland Against Crimi­nalising Communities (SACC) wants an investiga­tion into the Scottish Government's decision to give IT work for the 2011 census to CACI.

The company is a wholly owned UK subsidiary of US contractor CACI Interna­tional, which provided interrogators to work at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq between 2003 and 2005.

The prison was at the centre of allegations of human rights abuses, such as torturing prisoners by US military and US govern­mental agency personnel, which came to public atten­tion in 2004.

At the time of the census, March 2011, SACC campaigners urged people in Scotland to boycott the survey because of CACI's links with the prison.

Scotland's census is-organised by National Records of Scotland (NRS) with the support of around 10 main contractors.Completion of the census is compulsory and failure to answer all of the questions, except the one about religion, is punishable by a fine of up to £1000.

Richard Haley, chairman of SACC, said: "The Scot­tish Government has so far failed to set up an inquiry into how CACI came to be given the census contract.

"CACI has so far avoided answering allegations against it in US courts by claiming immunity as a US Government contractor."

A Crown Office spokes­man said: "The Crown has no jurisdiction to investi­gate the allegations made as they refer to foreign nationals on foreign soil."

SACC's call for an inquiry comes as a woman is due to appear at Glasgow Sheriff Court next week in connec­tion with failing to complete the census.

Barbara Dowling, 67, is charged with breaking the Census Act 1920.

A spokesman for the National Records of Scot­land said: "As this is an ongoing court case, we cannot comment on this matter at this time."

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