Kolektif Fanmy Prizonye Weekly Demonstration
April 11, 2006
Bureau des Avocats Internationaux
Today, like every Tuesday over the last months, family members of prisoners held in prolonged pre-trial detention organized a sit-in to protest against the denial of justice to their next-of-kin, a corrupt, inefficient and politicized justice system and subhuman prison conditions in Haiti’s detention centers. 80 to 100 family members, mostly women from poor neighborhoods, assembled in front of the Prosecutor’s Office of Port-au-Prince, singing and holding up banners and posters with the slogan “Swa jije, swa libere!”, Creole for “Either judge or liberate!”. Every week, more families join the protest.
The Kolektif Fanmy Prizonye (Creole for Collective of Prisoners’ Families) is a grassroots initiative that was created in December 2005 and represents the voice of all prisoners arrested without judicial warrant and held without trial over months and often years. Most have not seen a judge, cannot afford a lawyer and have no other lobby to fight for their fundamental right to due process within reasonable time. Since the beginning of the year, the initiative has organized weekly sit-ins in front of the main courthouse of Port-au-Prince, the Ministry of Justice and the Prosecutor’s Office. The families pledged not to give up and repeat their weekly protests until they see a tangible amelioration in the administration of justice and the respect for their detained family members’ human rights. The initi ative has collected the names of hundreds of prisoners in pretrial detention and submitted them to the authorities. Recently, the National Penitenciary, Haiti’s largest prison built for no more than 800, surpassed the number of 2000 inmates, over 95% of whom have not been judged to date.
The members and women organizers of the Kolektif Fanmy Prizonye all work as volunteers. Many have lost their means of support due to their husband’s or other family member’s imprisonment and many struggle to even come up with the money for transport to attend meetings and sit-ins on top of their obligation to send food and clean water to their next-of-kin in prison. They put tremendous efforts in their work and demonstrate exceptional solidarity among themselves. They extend their call for support and solidarity to concerned organizations and individuals abroad.