Inmates in Haiti’s prisons deemed unsafe

The Collective of Lawyers Defenders of Human Rights recently decried the appalling conditions at Jacmel prison, located southeast of the Haitian capital. 

Described as deplorable and dehumanizing, the prison’s state has raised alarm bells among human rights advocates. 

Dire situation decried

Coordinator Arnel Rémy, during his visit to the largest penitentiary facility in the Southeast department, minced no words as he expressed his concerns about the dire situation at Jacmel prison. 

Reports are that he likened the environment to that of beasts rather than humans, emphasizing the urgency of the matter. 

Rémy stressed that without immediate action from the country’s Penitentiary Administration Department, the director of the Haitian National Police Frantz Elbé, and Justice Minister Emilie Prophète Milcé, the consequences could be grave. 

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He warned, “we will soon be able to face dozens of dead at the Jacmel prison.”


Stench and overcrowding

One of the harrowing aspects of the prison conditions highlighted by Rémy is the unbearable stench emanating from full septic tanks within the facility. 

This noxious odor affects both inmates and prison officials, exacerbating the misery within the prison walls.

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Another point of contention raised by Rémy is the overcrowding in the cells. 

Originally designed to house a maximum of 10 inmates, these cells now accommodate over 100 men and women, “jam-packed like sardines”. 

He also shared that there are no medical dispensaries to attend to the prisoners’ health needs.

Basic standards ignored

Rémy further shared that the prison fails to meet basic international standards. 

He expressed deep concern over the inadequate food provided to inmates, some of whom are so malnourished that their ribs are visible. 

Additionally, he decried the lack of hygiene within the prison, citing issues such as dust, insects, bedbugs, and cockroaches.

Ongoing crisis

This is not the first time that Arnel Rémy has spoken out about the deplorable conditions in Haitian prisons.

Reports are that in May, he condemned a similar situation at the Saint Marc civil prison, located northwest of the Haitian capital, where four inmates tragically lost their lives due to precarious conditions.

Rémy also sounded the alarm about the Cabaret women’s prison, which lacks access to drinking water, further compounding the crisis in Haiti’s penitentiary system.

Rising death toll

The situation in Haitian prisons has reached a critical juncture, with a surge in inmate deaths over the past year. 

According to reports, unsafe conditions, lack of food and water, and a staggering 401 per cent overpopulation rate have contributed to this alarming trend, as reported by the UN Integrated Office.

More on Haiti’s situation


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