Series S-1879 - Prisons and Corrections Services

Identity area

Reference code

S-1879

Title

Prisons and Corrections Services

Date(s)

  • 1991 - 2000 (Creation)

Level of description

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Extent and medium

No. of Boxes: 20

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Scope and content

International Civilian Mission in Haiti, OAS/UN (MICIVIH)
S-1879 contains records documenting activities undertaken by MICIVIH Observers stationed in bases throughout Haiti, to: monitor and evaluate the state of respect for human rights in prisons and detention facilities; identify violations of Haitian law and international standards relating to the treatment of prisoners and detainees; ensure proper functioning of penal institutions; and assist in the reform of the penal system in Haiti. The Haitian Armed Forces (FADH) ran the prisons in Haiti until the FADH was dissolved in January 1995. Administration of prisons was then turned over to the Interim Public Security Force (IPSF) until the creation of National Penitentiary Administration (APENA) by Presidential Decree on 29 June 1995.

The records document human rights abuses of prisoners and conditions in prisons and detention centers in Haiti during two years (1993-1994) of the de facto regime (29 September 1991 - 14 October 1994), and up to the closure of MICIVIH on 15 March 2000. The records are arranged by base and geographic location. Major prisons visited by Observers include the National Penitentiary in Port-au-Prince, Saint Marc Prison, Gonaives Prison, Les Cayes Prison, Hinche Prison, and Cap Haitien Prison; detention centers; and jails located in military-occupied casernes (barracks).

Included are reports describing the overall state of the prison system in the department, as well as: the level of cooperation between the mission and the prisons; Observers’ access to prisons and prisoners; relations among the prison, judicial and police authorities in the department; the prevalence of human rights violations in prisons; and recommendations for reforms.

Summaries of periodic visits to prisons by Observers note: structural and hygienic conditions; the availability of potable water, beds, and adequate supply of food to prisoners; the severity of overcrowding; incidents, including riots, hunger strikes, and escapes; and the state of recordkeeping in prisons. The visit reports also provide information about the circumstances of arrest and detention for individual prisoners, their access to legal counsel, and the status of their case in the court system. Additionally, the visit reports document brutality carried out by prison guards and military officers, including: cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment of prisoners; deaths caused by beatings and medical neglect; verbal abuse; arbitrary punishment and detention; and administrative neglect of prisoners’ cases.

The reports of visits to prisons are accompanied by lists featuring prisoners’ names and aliases; dates of arrest; criminal accusations, lengths of sentences; and milestones in the prisoners’ legal processing.

Also included are memoranda, authored by Observers, about: meetings between Observers and prison guards and authorities; the number and status of juvenile and women detainees; interventions enacted by Observers on behalf of individual detainees, particularly meetings with judicial authorities to draw attention to the legal mishandling of their case; the medical state of individual detainees and treatment carried out by MICIVIH medical personnel; and seminars on human rights and prison reform conducted by Observers for prison authorities.

There are also statistics compiled by Observers about the prison population, covering: the genders of prisoners, types of crimes committed, length of detention; and prisoners’ appearance before judicial authorities. The series also includes: lists of prisons, detention centers, casernes, and garde-à-vue of police commissariats in the department; guidelines for Observers on how to conduct prison visits and prisoner interviews; and prisoner data sheets.

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Chronological

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  • English, French, Creole

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2001/0168, 2001/0171

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