Monday, June 21, 2010

Group says children suffer in Haiti jails

Sunday, June 20, 2010

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – A human rights group here
says that more than 50 children are currently
subjected to harsh treatment in jails in the
earthquake-ravaged, French-speaking Caribbean

“These minors are receiving no special treatment
whatsoever and routinely face prolonged
preventive detention, overcrowding, poor
conditions and no rehabilitation strategy,” said
the Haitian National Human Rights Defence Network
in a statement, disclosing that at least 58
children have suffered this fate.

The network said that since the January 12
devastating earthquake 43 boys and 15 girls have
been transferred to two prisons built for adults.

"There are 15 girls jammed into one little cell
in which there are supposed to be a maximum of
four people," it said.

This comes in the wake of a report by a United
Nations human rights expert, which describes
conditions at two of Haiti’s main prisons as
“cruel, inhuman and degrading”.

Michel Forst – who visited the National
Penitentiary in capital, Port-au-Prince, and the
prison in southern city of Cayes, from April 21
to May 1 – also told the UN Human Rights Council
in Geneva, Switzerland that the prisons in Haiti
are severely overcrowded.

He said this became even more unbearable in the
wake of the January 12 earthquake that ravaged
capital, Port-au-Prince, leaving several prisons

“Both places are overcrowded with detainees
living in cruel, inhumane, and degrading
conditions, in the meaning of the (UN) convention
against torture,” said Frost, adding that
conditions at the two prisons are “even more
severe than before the earthquake”.

He called for a “serious and impartial” probe
into the alleged shooting death of about 10
prisoners at Cayes, who sought to escape in
the aftermath of the earthquake.

Late last month, the UN said it and Haiti will
look into the deadly prison riot in Les Cayes
amid allegations that unarmed inmates were shot
by local police officers.

The UN said the independent commission will be
“a joint UN-Haiti” effort.

“The commission is being set up under an
agreement reached between Haitian President René
Préval and Edmund Mulet, the Secretary-General’s
Special Representative and the head of the UN
peacekeeping mission, which is known as MINUSTAH,”
the UN statement said.

According to reports, more than a dozen people
were killed and dozens of others wounded during
the attempted prison escape in Les Cayes on
January 19, raising questions about the role
played by the Haitian National Police (HNP).

“As far as we're concerned, there was a major
human rights violation in that prison,” UN
spokesman David Wimhurst said.

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