UN Investigates Shooting of Haitian Prisoners in Les Cayes

The United Nations is investigating the shooting of dozens of prisoners during a jail riot in the town of Les Cayes on January 19, a week after Haiti’s earthquake. The New York Times said it appeared 12 to 19 prisoners were killed and up to 40 wounded by gunshots. After The Times reported the riot, suspected killings by police, and a possible cover-up by Haitian officials, U.N. spokesman David Wimhurst told The Associated Press that there had been “a major human rights violation in that prison.”

The newspaper said the riot started when some of the 467 prisoners, severely overcrowded and terrified by aftershocks, tried to escape. Haitian police and U.N. peacekeepers from Senegal surrounded the prison to prevent a mass exodus like the one that occurred at Port-au-Prince’s main prison days earlier. According to Wimhurst, at some point, Haitian police rushed the building and opened fire. The U.N. opened an internal inquiry around May 12 and a more extensive formal inquiry is possible. Wimhurst said the U.N. investigation was delayed because of the heavy toll the earthquake took on the 9,000-member peacekeeping force, including the collapse of its headquarters—the largest single loss of life in the world body’s history.

For full article (in French), see http://tempsreel.nouvelobs.com/actualite/monde/20100523.FAP2129/l-onu-s-interroge-sur-la-mort-de-prisonniers-en-haiti.html

For full article (in English), see http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/05/22/ap/latinamerica/main6510134.shtml

Photo of a Les Cayes prison from http://crosscatholic.org/

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