Wednesday, February 25, 2015

89% Of The Inmates Of The National Penitentiary In Prolonged Pretrial Detention

Haiti - Justice : 89% of the inmates of the National Penitentiary in prolonged pretrial detention
(Haiti Libre) - 25/02/2015 09:37:31

Haiti - Justice : 89% of the inmates of the National Penitentiary in prolonged pretrial detention
Tuesday at the initiative of SOS Journalists and the Press House, was held a panel discussion on the problem of prolonged pretrial detention, attended by Pierre-Richard Casimir, the Minister of Justice and Security public, Luc Côté, Coordinator of the program to support the rule of law and Anne Fuller, Deputy Head of the Section of Human Rights of MINUSTAH.

The intervention of the Minister Casimir has largely focused on the problem of prolonged pretrial detention and the actions he is about to undertake, to reduce if not eliminate this phenomenon, which is one of the main concerns of various players in the justice sector.

From the outset, he insisted on the principle that freedom is the rule and imprisonment the exception before listing some of the key factors behind the high rate of prolonged pretrial detention in several jurisdictions of the country. He cited include: the slowness of judicial actors in the handling of cases, poor categorization of offenses in Haiti and the lack of alternatives to imprisonment. Recalling that at the national penitentiary in Port-au-Prince, the large detention center in the country, 4,452 people are imprisoned while only 485 of them have already know their fate, or 89% of detainees in prolonged pretrial detention. Note that this is a slight improvement over June 2013 when the prolonged preventive detention rate was 95.4% [181 inmates judged on 3,952 detainees]

To remedy this situation, the Minister of Justice announced a package of specific measures including: the proliferation of criminal hearings, the adoption of special provisions allowing judges to work weekends, increased courtrooms in the jurisdiction of Port-au-Prince and in particular the intensification of legal aid program for the benefit of the poor

The minister also promised to work with the Federation of Bar Associations and deans of the Courts of First Instance to accelerate the backlogs treatments stressing that 450 justice records are about to be discharged by Justice . All these points, according to the Minister, are part of a huge operation called "punch" to reduce prolonged pretrial detention rate over the entire national territory. Structurally, the Minister Casimir announced including the strengthening and revitalization of the judicial inspection in the various jurisdictions in the country.

While it is true that the situation is revealed worrying within the jurisdiction of Port-au-Prince, the Minister pointed out that in some jurisdictions, such as Hinche, Saint Marc and Fort-Liberté, prolonged pretrial detention rate is particularly low even insignificant. While this is true, according to the latest available figures let's recall that in March 2013, out of a total prison population of 9.904 in all the penitentiaries centers in Haiti, 7.188 (72.57% national average) were on provisional detention in awaiting trial

The representatives of the Minustah, congratulated the Minister Casimir for these measures and pledged the full support of the UN mission in the process of strengthening justice and the construction of the rule of law. In addition, they argued for the adoption of sanctions against some judges and prosecutors officers who, through their indiscipline, have contributed to weaken the justice and increase the rate of prolonged pretrial detention.

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