Prisoners’ Rights Training Held Same Week Inmate Dies at Haiti’s National Penitentiary

Haiti’s National Penitentiary in downtown Port-au-Prince. Photo: BBC

Haitian police officers working as prison guards received training on the rights of prisoners during the same week an inmate died, reportedly from lack of care.

Inmate Joel Cher Enfant died on May 25 at the National Penitentiary in Port-au-Prince, drawing criticism from some observers.

On Twitter, attorney Ariel Remy, criticized conditions at the National Penitentiary.

“Prisoners have great difficulty eating,” Remy wrote in a May 26 tweet. “No potable water, they drink water they shower with, the prisoners don’t have access to health care.”

Prison authorities have not addressed the statement or Cher Enfant’s reported death.

Conditions in the National Penitentiary are horrific, with overcrowded cells and lack of water and sanitation. Photo: BBC

With the human rights training, authorities hope to improve knowledge of prisoners’ rights and access for prisoners seeking justice. It started with 80 police officers in four municipalities —  Arcahaie, Croix des Bouquets, Carrefour, and Cornillon.

Trainer Camille Occius, coordinator at the Organization of Citizens for a New Haiti (OCNH),  told local news outlets that he is aware the guards must play a role in improving conditions for prisoners. OCNH has provided technical support to 800 prisoners in those municipalities.

A UN report shows that cruel and inhumane treatment are commonly used as disciplinary measures in prisons in Haiti, even in youth correctional facilities. The report is based on visits to 12 prisons between January and March 2021.

Another Human rights organization in Haiti, le Bureau des Droits Humains en Haïti, or BDHH, is working closely with women’s prisons. In those detention centers, women are sexually assaulted and often have difficulty accessing hygienic products, among many difficulties.

An earlier version of this article was published in the Haitian Times.

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