Hell is a Haitian prison


 Kate Heartfield, writing for The Ottawa Citizen, describes Haitian prisons  as “some of the worst in the world. The prisoners have little access to medical treatment, and even, in some cases, to adequate food and clean water. At one prison in Port-au-Prince, the average cell space per prisoner is 0.42 meters square. That’s less than the amount of space you’d need to stand up and swing your arms around. Imagine living with other people at that distance from you, sleeping in shifts because you can’t all lie down at the same time. Add in, of course, inadequate toilet facilities, disease and danger.”

Heartfield writes on the occasion of a report being presented to the United Nations Human Rights Council by Michel Forst, an independent expert on human rights in Haiti, where he notes that  (in Heartfield’s translation) “since 1996, deportees arriving from the United States and Canada are immediately incarcerated on Haitian territory, with the deportees with the most serious records going directly to the national penitentiary for at least three months.”

The report is particularly timely as the United States is reconsidering its decision to deport illegal Haitian immigrants and a proposal is under discussion to grant them temporary legal status in the US. To the environmental arguments being offered in favor of the temporary legal status in the US can be added the fact that, according to Forst report, “prisoners in Haiti have difficulty exercising legal rights. One of the reasons for the crowding of Haitian prisons is that many people who are sent there don’t go to trial for years, if they go at all. The justice system is still mired in incompetence and corruption.”

For the complete report, which details how Canada addresses the issue of illegal Haitian immigrants, go to  http://www.canada.com/news/Hell+Haitian+prison/1660696/story.html

Photo by Joshn Glodblun at http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2039/1577083763_a88389b551.jpg?v=0

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