Haiti’s Prison from Hell: ‘I can’t cope, I have no-one’

Debra Killalea, news.com.au

April 4, 2017 2:33am

IT’S so overcrowded there’s barely room to move.

Dozens of men are crammed into cells for hours on end, some without access to a toilet.

Welcome to Haiti’s National Penitentiary.

Regarded as one of the most overcrowded prisons in the world, Dateline reporter Seyi Rhodes goes inside and discovers the shocking conditions many are forced to endure.

Among the overcrowded inmates, 80 per cent have been imprisoned without a conviction while others have been languishing inside for years awaiting their fate.

Conditions inside the prison have to be seen to be believed. Picture: Seyi Rhodes/DatelineThe conditions appear even more shocking when capacity figures come to light.

According to Dateline the prison is 400 per cent over capacity with 529 convicted inmates and 3830 being held in pre-trial detention.

One inmate tells Rhodes he is at breaking point and doesn’t know what to do.

“I can’t cope anymore,” he said. “I have no one.”

“Only God can put in a word for me.”

The prisons are so overcrowded men barely have room to move. Picture: Seyi Rhodes/DatelineAnother tells him he has been inside the prison for six years yet has never received a judgment for the crime he is accused of.

In Haiti’s Prison from Hell, which airs tonight on SBS at 9.30pm, Rhodes speaks to those both inside and outside the prison system and found many men were caught up in endless red tape.

Conditions, including inside the prison infirmary, have been described as “sub-human”. Picture: Seyi Rhodes/DatelineDateline also reveals how part of the judicial stagnation problem stems back to the devastating 2010 earthquake where 60 per cent of government buildings were destroyed, making the administration of justice even more difficult.

On at least two cases men had been ordered for release but a dispute over paperwork means they are still there.

Seyi Rhodes points to a cell when dozens of men are crammed inside, some of whom are ill or in bad health. Picture: Seyi Rhodes/DatelineMany of the inmates appear unwell and malnourished with around three dying each month from diseases including cholera and tuberculosis.

Wearing a surgical mask, Rhodes also reveals the shocking conditions those suffering from ill health endure.

In one cell, he finds 49 men quarantined into a small room with inmates telling him they’re forced to sleep on top of each other and with no access to a toilet.

Dateline reporter Seyi Rhodes goes inside Haiti’s Prison from Hell. Picture: Seyi RhodesThe shocking conditions of Haiti’s criminal justice system were highlighted in this year’s Human Rights Watch World Report.

The report describes the country’s prisons as “severely overcrowded” with many inmates living in inhumane conditions.

With around 11,000 inmates in the national prison system, inmates have access to around one square metre of space with many spending up to 23 hours a day in confinement.

HRW attributes overcrowding to high numbers of arbitrary arrests and an overuse of pre-trial detention.

Haiti’s Prison from Hell premieres on Dateline tonight on SBS at 9.30pm.

Dateline reporter Seyi Rhodes goes inside the prison from hell. Picture: Seyi Rhodes/Dateline



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