Home > Americas, Canada, Caribbean, Politics > Haitian Political Prisoners and Canadian Development Dollars

Haitian Political Prisoners and Canadian Development Dollars

Chris Scott writes in Haitianalysis.com and Briarpatch Magazine:

Who is in jail in today’s Haiti, it seems, has a lot more to do with stifling political dissent than with bringing criminals to justice. And Canada has played a key role.

There were no kids present in the long line of relatives waiting outside the prison gates in Port-au-Prince. Haitian regulations bar children from visiting the National Penitentiary, and it is in fact doubtful whether many would have endured the hot and bothered atmosphere that prevailed that day outside the city lock-up. Under the penetrating stares of Jordanian peacekeepers, 200 Haitian women had assembled in the busy street and were waiting stoically to see their imprisoned loved ones. Filing past a UN armoured vehicle, clutching bundles of food and medicine, they advanced in slow intervals toward a barbed-wire checkpoint.

Once inside, the women and I were frisked and checked for ID before we were let into an enclosed courtyard where a few dozen men, pressed against the separation fence, stuck hands through the bars and struggled to make themselves heard against the background clamour. According to penitentiary procedure, prisoners are entitled to one fifteen minute visit weekly from an adult relative. But what makes detention particularly tedious for so many in the penal system is the fact that the vast majority-89 percent-of Haiti’s detainees have yet to be tried.

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