Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Amnesty International Alert on Prison Killings (Amnesty International)

Amnesty International Alert on Prison Killings

PUBLIC AI Index: AMR 36/063/2004
20 December 2004

UA 339/04 Fear for safety/unlawful killings

HAITI Prisoners at National Penitentiary in Port-au-Prince

A prison riot on the night of 1 December left 10 prisoners dead and around 40 injured, according to official figures, but inmates have claimed that many more died, and that guards were “executing” prisoners. Visits to the prison have been severely restricted, making the true situation very difficult to assess. Prisoners who have spoken to journalists are feared to be at risk of reprisals from prison guards.

The riot took place at the National Penitentiary, which holds over 1,000 detainees, in the capital, Port-au-Prince. Officials claim that prisoners who did not want to be transferred to other facilities broke out of their cells, set fire to mattresses and used bricks, kitchen utensils and water pipes as weapons against prison guards and the police who were called to the scene. Some of the dead prisoners had been shot, and others stabbed, according to Haitian National Police officials, who gave no further information about the circumstances in which the men had died.

Two prisoners and one hospital worker have contradicted the official version of events, saying they saw many more than 10 corpses. One of these witnesses, a prisoner released two days after the riot, told a journalist he had seen the police open fire on the detainees, take prisoners out of their cells and force them into a passageway to execute them methodically. He said prison guards had beaten him and warned him not to talk about what he had seen. He is now in hiding.

The director of the national police announced on 6 December that there would be an investigation into the riot. However, he gave no details, and three weeks after the riot no official information has been made public, not even the list of casualties. This means that prisoners’ families still do not know whether their relatives are alive or not.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in French, English or your own language:

– urging the authorities to order an independent and thorough judicial investigation into the killings at the National Penitentiary on 1 December, and bring those responsible to justice;

– expressing concern at reports that prison guards have beaten and threatened witnesses to the killings, and asking for all such witnesses to be fully protected from any reprisals;

– calling for detainees to be given access to lawyers, their families and any medical assistance they may require;

– reminding the authorities of their need to ensure that all military police and prison guards are properly trained in accordance with international standards on the use of force and treatment of detainees, and are provided with the conditions and training to perform their duties in such a way as to ensure the safety of both detainees and themselves.

APPEALS TO: (please note that fax numbers can be extremely difficult to get through to)

National Police Director

Monsieur Léon Charles

Directeur Général de la Police Nationale d’Haïti

Grand Quartier général de la Police

12 rue Oscar Pacot,

Port-au-Prince, Haïti

Fax: + 509 245 7374

Salutation: Monsieur le Directeur

Public prosecutor

Monsieur Jean Pierre Daniel Audain

Commissaire du Gouvernement près le Tribunal de première instance de Port au Prince

Parquet de Port-au-Prince

Port au Prince, Haïti

Salutation: Monsieur le Commissaire du Gouvernement


Prime Minister

Monsieur Gérard Latortue

Premier Ministre

Ministre de l’Intérieure

Villa d’Accueil

Delmas 60

Musseau, Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Fax: + 509 249 5561

Salutation: Monsieur le Premier Ministre

Justice Minister

Monsieur Bernard Gousse

Ministre de la Justice et de la Sécurité Publique

Ministère de la Justice

19 Avenue Charles Summer

Port-au-Prince, Haïti

Fax: + 509 245 0474

Salutation: Monsieur le Ministre

UN Special Representative

Mr Juan Gabriel Valdés

Special Representative of the Secretary-General

United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti

387, avenue John Brown

Port-au-Prince, Haïti

Fax: + 509 244 3512

Salutation: Dear Mr Valdés

Mr David Beer

Police Commissioner

United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti

387, avenue John Brown

Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Fax: + 509 244 9366

Salutation: Dear Mr Beer

PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat, or your section office, if sending appeals after 31 January 2005. Internet communications are not secure and therefore Amnesty International Ltd does not accept legal responsibility for the contents of this message. If you are not the intended recipient you must not disclose or rely on the information in this e-mail. Any views or opinions presented are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Amnesty International Ltd unless specifically stated. Electronic communications including email might be monitored by Amnesty International Ltd. for operational or business reasons.

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