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Haiti: ill-treatment / legal concern: children in detention at Fort National Prison, Port-au-Prince

, Index number: AMR 36/003/1995

AI is concerned at reports that children aged between 12 and 17 have been beaten by guards in Fort National Prison. Many of them are also believed to be held there illegaly.

EXTERNAL AI Index: AMR 36/03/95
This is a limited UA. Please restrict appeals to 10 per section
UA 275/95 Ill-treatment/Legal Concern 21 December 1995
HAITIChildren in detention at Fort National Prison, Port-au-Prince
Amnesty International is concerned at reports that children aged between 12
and 17 have been beaten by guards in Fort National Prison on at least two
occasions in the past month. Many of them are also believed to be held there
On 28 November 1995 four guards belonging to the Administration Pénitentiaire
Nationale (APENA), National Penitentiary Administration, reportedly beat 20
minors at Fort National Prison after they had started fighting amongst
themselves. The following day a doctor from the Medical Unit of the joint
United Nations/Organization of American States International Civilian Mission
in Haiti (MICIVIH) visited the prison and examined the 20 minors. He found
that they exhibited a considerable number of lesions. A MICIVIH investigation
of the incident concluded that disproportionate and improper force had been
used by the APENA personnel, who, as well as beating some of the detainees,
had reportedly released teargas into an overcrowded cell and fired a warning
shot into the air.
On the night of 7 December, thirteen minors from the same prison escaped.
Two who were recaptured shortly afterwards alleged that they were beaten by
guards upon being returned to the prison.
The situation has been brought to the attention of the Minister of Justice,
who is responsible for prison administration, but it is not clear what action,
if any, has so far been taken against those responsible for the beatings or
their superiors.
A joint investigation carried out by representatives of MICIVIH, APENA and
the UN Development Program, has revealed that many women and children detained
at Fort National are being held without any justification and that often their
files are completely empty. This is a general problem in most Haitian prisons
and MICIVIH has urged public prosecutors and investigating judges to visit
prisons at least once a month to remedy the situation. It has also called on
the Haitian Government to adopt a code of ethics for APENA personnel and to
establish clear procedures, based on international standards, for maintaining
prison discipline.
Conditions in Haitian prisons have improved markedly since October 1994 when
President Jean-Bertrand Aristide returned to the country to resume his
presidential term which had been interrupted by a military coup in 1991. Although
Amnesty International has continued to receive occasional reports of beatings,
it is clear that the type of systematic torture that was characteristic of
the military government of General Raoul Cédras is no longer prevalent. With
the assistance of the international community, the government of President
Aristide has embarked on a program of prison reform and sanitary conditions,
food supplies and health care are said to have generally improved in most places.
However, overcrowding resulting from delays in the administration of justice,
has become a serious problem in recent months resulting in serious tensions
and occasional riots in some prisons as well as several escapes. APENA, a
civilian agency located within the Ministry of Justice, was established in
May 1995. According to MICIVIH, APENA has insufficient staff to cope with the
increasing prison population and the existing personnel have received only
two weeks’ training.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express/airmail
letters in French or your own language:
- expressing concern at reports that minors held at Fort National Prison have
been beaten by guards on at least two occasions since 28 November;
- requesting an immediate halt to such practices and that anyone suspected
of having carried them out or ordered them to be carried out be immediately
suspended pending the results of an independent investigation into the
- requesting that all prison personnel be under strict instructions to act
at all times in accordance with the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment
of Prisoners;
- requesting that an immediate investigation be carried out into the legal
situation of all minors and women held at Fort National and that all those
found to be detained illegally be immediately released.
Minister of Justice
M. René Magloire
Ministre de la Justice
Ministère de la Justice
Cité de l’Exposition
Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Telex: 20166 justice
Fax: +509 23-9407 (this is the number for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs -
please ask them to forward the message to the Minister of Justice)
Telegrams: Ministre Justice, Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Salutation: Monsieur le Ministre/Dear Minister
Appeals regarding ill-treatment only:
Director of Prisons
M. Pierre Elysée
Directeur de l’Administration Pénitentiaire
Nationale (APENA)
Ministère de la Justice
Cité de l’Exposition
Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Telex: 20166 justice
Telegrams: Directeur APENA, Ministere Justice, Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Salutation: Monsieur le Directeur
Director of Fort National Prison
Madame le Directeur
Prison de Fort National
Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Telegrams: Directeur, Prison Fort National, Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Salutation: Madame le Directeur
Appeals regarding legal situation only:
Public Prosecutor for Port-au-Prince
Maître Jean-August Brutus
Commissaire du Gouvernement
Parquet de Port-au-Prince
Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Telegrams: Commissaire Gouvernement Brutus, Parquet, Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Salutation: Monsieur le Commissaire du Gouvernement
Human rights organization
Plateforme haïtienne des droits humains
3 avenue de Travail No.11
Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Créole newspaper
BP 13441
Delmas, Haiti
and to diplomatic representatives of Haiti accredited to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 1 February 1996.

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