PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti – Haiti has been ranked as the worst country for the most overcrowded prisons in the world, according to information released by World Prison Brief (WPB).
According to the London-based publication, at the end of January the French-speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country topped the 205 countries surveyed for the most overcrowded prisons in the world, followed by the Philippines and El Salvador.
In June 2016, the 17 Haitian prisons in the country, had an average occupancy rate of 454 per cent and the space per detainee was a little less than 0.5 m2, far off the international standard which is 4.5 m2.
The prison population in Haiti was estimated at 10,500 prisoners or 96 out of 100,000 inhabitants.
The result of this overcrowding causes many human violations, important health problems, spread of diseases, malnutrition and violence. Seventy-two per cent of the prisoners were in pre-trial detention without having been tried. The average length of pre-trial detention is 1,100 days according to a study released here in December 2016.
Last year, Gustavo Gallón, the Independent Expert of the UN Human Rights Council, spoke of the markedly insufficient progress made in the case of prolonged detention.
“On average, more than 70 per cent of those detained in Haiti continue to be held in prolonged detention. The situation in the Port-au-Prince National Penitentiary has worsened dramatically: the average length of pre-trial detention increased from 624 days to 1,100 days (or 3 years), according to a study by the Minustah in December 2016.
“If we count inmates for more than two years and those who, although detained for less than two years, have not seen a magistrate in the last six months, it can be said that 91 per cent of all persons detained in the National Penitentiary awaiting trial are deprived of their liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily, an increase of 23 per cent since 2014,” he said then.
He noted that if the situation of prolonged detainees were resolved, there would be no overcrowding in Haitian prisons.