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Haiti - Justice : The Government recognizes that the prison situation is chaotic
07/12/2018 15:15:51

Haiti - Justice : The Government recognizes that the prison situation is chaotic
During a hearing in Washigton DC, at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), on the prison situation in Haiti, the National Network for the Defense of Human Rights (RNDDH) represented by Marie Rosy Kesner Auguste Ducéna, Program Manager and John Mc Intosh Armand Assistant Program Manager, presented the general conditions of detention in Haiti and the legal status of prisoners, of which 75% are currently awaiting trial.

The Haitian Government was represented by, among others, Stéphanie Auguste, the Minister in charge of the Prime Minister, Human Rights and Extreme Poverty, Camille Leblanc, Special Adviser to the Prime Minister and former Minister of Justice, Léon Charles, the Minister Counselor to the Organization of American States (OAS) and Jean Fallières Bazelais, Head of Legal Counsel at the Ministry of Justice.

At this hearing, the Haitian Government acknowledged that the prison situation in Haiti was indeed chaotic and that it was necessary to intervene to improve the general conditions of life of persons deprived of their liberty. It also pledged to address the tragedy of illegal and arbitrary pre-trial detention as quickly as possible and pledged to step up its efforts to reduce the rate of 75% pre-trial detention to 20%.

In his presentation on the prison situation in Haiti, the RNDDH emphasized:

"[...] 37% of prison buildings, some of which have existed since the times of the colony, are old and endanger the life of the detainees.

[...] the maximum capacity is 3,000 prisoners. As of October 23, 2018, they hosted 11,839 people, nearly 4 times its capacity.

[...] contrary to Article 19 of the Principles and Good Practices for the Protection of Persons Deprived of Liberty in America, of March 13, 2008, drawn up and published by the IACHR, Haitian detainees are not separated on the sex, age, the alleged offense or their legal status.

[...] The beds and mattresses are not enough for the prisoners. Thousands of prisoners sleep on the floor, on pieces of cardboard or cloth brought by members of their family.

[...] The prison toilets are dirty, smelly and poorly maintained.

[...] The food ratio as envisaged by the only nutritionist of the Haitian prison system is rarely respected. This situation exposes the prisoners to a food imbalance, with a predominance of rice offered almost daily and malnutrition.

[...] Generally, the Haitian prisons do not have infirmary [...] For a prison population of nearly 12,000 prisoners the prison system has only 23 doctors and 62 nurses.

[...] In 90% of the cases, the drugs are administered to the detainees only on diagnosis of auscultation because the medical examinations are only rarely realized. Drug prescriptions must be performed by the inmate's parents.

[...] Without a training program, without recreational activities, prisoners are confined to their cells during their detention and leave only for their physiological needs and ablutions. These conditions are the cause of several deaths [...] on average 12 per month.

[...] In Haiti arbitrary pre-trial detention is the rule. Anyone arrested, regardless of the alleged offense, is systematically incarcerated. The average time of pretrial detention varies between 3 and 5 years.

[...] on a Haitian prison population of 11,839 detainees [...] 75.05% are awaiting a judgment and only 24.93% are sentenced. However, the Haitian law is clear, as of the 4th month, the preventive detention becomes illegal and arbitrary.

[...] Some prisoners are still in pre-trial detention while an order has already been issued in their favor for several years. Others, incarcerated for more than 10 years, are still awaiting the results of the judicial investigations opened against them, to be either tried or released."

HL/ HaitiLibre

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