December 4, 2023

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Haitian justice begins hearings to limit pretrial detention

Haitian justice begins hearings to limit pretrial detention

In a joint memorandum published by the Ministry of Communications, the bodies stated that criminal trials without the assistance of a jury, as well as correctional trials, would be held until January 31.

They also stressed that this measure would be beneficial to the judicial system and expressed their appreciation for the participation of the judiciary and judicial staff.

In mid-October, the Ministry of Justice and the Supreme Council established a special committee to study how best to reduce pretrial detention, which currently affects eight out of 10 prisoners.

In addition, a UN report revealed that the country’s prisons are operating at four times their capacity, and that prisoners have only 0.24 square meters to live on, “slightly more than the surface of a chair.”

The document indicates that prisons are facing a serious food and medical supplies crisis, while inmates receive only one meal a day.

Detainees’ access to medical care is almost non-existent, as there is only one doctor for every 1,016 prisoners, and medical supplies are scarce and limited.

Children are not spared either because according to the UN’s independent human rights expert, William O’Neill, the occupancy rate at the Re-Education Center for Minors in Conflict with the Law (Cermicol) is 350 percent.

O’Neill criticized that 99 percent of children in detention had not been convicted and that most were imprisoned for years accused of stealing a chicken, a shoe or a phone, without ever appearing before a judge.

Last week, authorities set up a criminal headquarters in Cermicul and began special correctional public hearings to combat the problem.

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