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Archive for the ‘prison abuse’ Category

No Condoms For Bajan Prisons

In prison abuse, prison sexual abuse, sexual abuse, sexual assault on May 31, 2008 at 6:26 pm

In the Barbados Parliament recently, Minister of Family Dr Esther Byer Suckoo whilst debating a resolution for the national strategic plan for HIV/AIDS prevention and control 2008-2013 said the government did not intend to sanction the distribution of condoms to prisoners in any of the nation’s penal institutions.

Dr Byer-Suckoo reportedly stated that condoms are not safe for anal sex, adding that prisoners need to be empowered with harm reduction strategies, whilst limiting the mobility of offenders. She emphasised the need to be able to reach prisoners with the strategies for the prevention of HIV because the government was aware that the potential for transmission of HIV in the prisons is high.

The Minister said that the government would utilise a variety of strategies to encourage prisoners who have been sexually assaulted and abused in custody to come forward to receive competent and effective counselling, treatment and care.

She was ready to acknowledge, however, that for such an atmosphere to be created, there needs to be the assurance for prisoners that their human rights will be protected in the prison and that, as a rape victim in the prison, they will have recourse for action.

CURB is in high praise for the Barbados government for its willingness to publicly address this issue rather than engage in denials and hide behind senseless rhetoric. We hope that other Caribbean governments follow this sterling example and move with decisiveness to stop prison abuse in the region.

Judge Slams BVI Prisons Lack of Juvenile Facilities

In prison abuse on May 31, 2008 at 6:11 pm

Superintendent of Prisons in the British Virgin islands, Kenton Callwood, recently expressed concern over the lack of facilities at the prisons to deal with juveniles. His statement was made during the recent trial of a 16 year old youth who was sentenced to 6 years in prison by Justice Indra Charles on a conviction of manslaughter.

In her judgment, Justice Charles reported the superintendent as saying that the prison is ill-prepared to deal with a long-term juvenile inmate who for the most part will be isolated. Also, major changes will have to be made to meet the minimum standards required for dealing with juvenile inmates.

The judge hoped that this case would encourage the government of the BVI territory to move quickly to provide a proper facility to house its young people who have breached the law. According to the judge, although a new section for juveniles has been created in the new female section of the prison, the needs of minors cannot be met.

In addition, she said juveniles in adult facilities are extremely vulnerable from not only adult inmates but also from abuses from untrained staff.

Update on Stop Prison Abuse Project.

In prison abuse, prison sexual abuse, sexual abuse, sexual assault on May 26, 2008 at 8:17 am

In Trinidad and Tobago, CURB has been working quietly behind the scenes to secure a visit to the twin-island nation by representatives of the international organisation, Stop Prisoner Rape (SPR).

The purpose of the initial visit would be for SPR to meet with Prison Commissioner, John Rougier, become acquainted with the situation in local prisons, the intentions of prison authorities, and the needs of all stakeholders, including rape crisis counsellors, prison volunteers and other agencies in treating with prison sexual assault and abuse.

SPR has over 30 years experience in advocating for the rights of prisoners to be free from sexual assault and abuse and played an integral role in the passage in the U.S.A. of the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003.

Thus far, SPR has offered to fund its initial visit to Trinidad and Tobago and may well return before the end of 2008 to conduct such workshops and other training sessions for prison officers, chaplains, volunteers and crisis responders as may be deemed necessary.

SPR had hoped to visit the Caribbean from 26th to 30th May, 2008. However, in an effort to accommodate the Prison Commissioner of Trinidad and Tobago whose schedule for that period was said to be extremely busy, SPR opted to postpone the trip.

At present, CURB is awaiting a response from the Prison Commissioner as to whether several alternative dates in July and August 2008 proposed by SPR are convenient for him to accommodate them.

St. Vincent and Grenadines Prison Report Soon

In prison abuse, restorative justice on April 30, 2008 at 3:12 am

The Caribbean can expect a report on conditions at Her Majesty’s Prisons to be released soon, according to St. Vincent and the Grenadines Human Rights president and prominent Attorney-at-Law, Ms. Nicole Sylvester.

The report is based on interviews conducted at the prison and observations made by SVGHRA members during visits to the penal institution. Members of the Association have seen prisoners who have received fractured bones and other injuries while they were incarcerated.

Ms. Sylvester was hopeful that the new proposed multi-million dollar prison facility being constructed at Belle Isle, would improve the conditions of inmates and pledged the support of the Association if the facility becomes a reality. However, she believes that the proposed construction should not relieve the prison authorities of responsibility for the manner in which the inmates at Her Majesty Prison are being housed and treated.

Asked by the media about a previous promise by the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to construct a juvenile detention centre, Ms. Sylvester was saddened that the assurances were never fulfilled. She indicated that her Association would continue to agitate for a separate facility for juveniles in the justice system.

CURB will be very interested in reading the report of the SVGHRA and believes that citizens in all Caribbean territories should develop a greater interest in what is taking place behind prison walls to ensure that their tax dollars are not being utilised to perpetrate, condone or cover up physical and or sexual abuses on prison inmates.

More Abuse Alleged at TCI Prison

In prison abuse, prison sexual abuse, sexual abuse, sexual assault on April 5, 2008 at 8:44 am

Journalist Gemma Handy recently published an article in the Turks and Caicos Islands Weekly News in which she quoted a prison source who alleged that there had been a number of assaults by officers against inmates in recent weeks.

The officer alleged that since the first article by Miss Handy exposing physical and sexual assaults at the Turk Prison, there have been two or three beatings. The officer indicated that the beaten inmates were not allowed to see the Visiting Committee until a much later stage by which time their bruises had healed.

However, the officer claimed that the article had a positive effect as there had been some “positive changes” at the prison since Ms Handy highlighted the abuses.

The officer added that the full investigative reports on the abuses alleged by Miss Handy should have been made available to the public and the media as well as inmates themselves. The officer is quoted as saying, “The Government is clearly behind the prison and hiding what’s been going on because it makes them look bad.”

TT Man Prefers Death Than Jail

In prison abuse on April 4, 2008 at 3:52 am

On Thursday 27th March, 2008 an accused whose bail was revoked by a Trinidad magistrate pleaded with the magistrate not to sned him to jail for fear of being stabbed to death.

When Randy Mason saw that his plea fell on deaf ears, he slammed his head three times into the wooden walls of the courtroom and shouted that he rather die than return to jail.

CURB recalls that similar pleas by a youth a few years ago were followed by a completed suicide after he was remanded to the Youth Training Centre. It is alleged that the youth in that case may have been the victim of repeated sexual assault and abuse in custody.

We hope that the prison authorities place Mr. Mason on a more effective suicide watch than that provided last year to Richard Alexander who hanged himself in custody in 2007.

We urge them to provide Mr. Mason with professional mental health care to ascertain the basis of his fears and a thorough medical examination to detect any evidence of physical assault or sexual abuse.

Jail Sexual Misconduct Threatens TT Murder Case

In prison abuse, prison sexual abuse, sexual abuse, sexual assault on April 4, 2008 at 3:36 am

In March, 2008 in Trinidad and Tobago, a murder accused reported a police officer stationed at the Arouca Police Station for making sexual advances to him while he was in their custody.

According to newspaper reports, while the accused was in the police cells, the officer allegedly went to the cell and told the murder accused that he would help him if he allowed him to have sex with him.

Homicide officers were allegedly forced to release the murder accused because of the sexual assault, and the man reportedly returned to the police station with his lawyer who lodged an official complaint at the Arouca Homicide Bureau.

Sources said the accused officer had been reported several times in connection with other sexual allegations but that senior officers turned a blind eye to his sexual misconduct.

CURB demands that a full investigation be conducted into these allegations by an independent body and systemic changes implemented to protect detainees and prisoners from physical and sexual assault and abuse from police and prison officers.

Yet Another Death in Custody in Trinidad

In prison abuse on April 2, 2008 at 8:49 am

On 1st April, 2008 at about 4 p.m. Jason Hospedales of Curepe was arrested for breaching a protection order and taken to the Tunapuna Police Station. By 6 p.m. he was found hanging in his cell from two bandannas he used as a makeshift noose.

CURB is adamant that persons who are taken into the custody of the State must be protected by the State even against themselves (from self harm or suicide).This man’s death was due to negligence as the officers needed to assess his mental state and relieve him of every item which could be used to commit self-harm.

Last year alone, 2 prison inmates – Beepath and Alexander – died in custody and no one has been held accountable thus far for their deaths. Beepath died from blunt force trauma to the chest and Alexander from hanging after he attempted suicide on 2 previous occasions.

Apart from deaths in custody, other people are being physically and sexually abused in custody (Boys Industrial School, Youth Training Centre, in Prison) and nobody is being held responsible in this country.

In other countries, the family members of the dead and those sexually and physically harmed in custody sue the State for millions of dollars and police and prison officers lose their jobs and all financial benefits.

It is time for that to happen in Trinidad and Tobago and other Caribbean territories. Irrespective of the offence a person is accused or convicted of having committed, physical and sexual abuse and negligence leading to self harm are “Not Part of the Sentence”.

Enough is enough!!!

Country Report on Guyana Human Rights Practices

In prison abuse on April 2, 2008 at 8:48 am

According to the US Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 2007, in Guyana “prison and jail conditions were poor, particularly in police holding cells. There were 2,180 prisoners in five facilities. More than half of these were in Georgetown’s Camp Street Prison, which was designed to hold 500 inmates but held approximately 1,140 during the year. Most of the inmates were pretrial detainees.

Conditions in the country’s four smaller prisons generally were adequate. Some prison officers received basic medical training, but no doctor regularly visited any of the prisons. All newly hired prison guards received human rights training from the Guyana Human Rights Association, which did not consider mistreatment of prisoners a problem in the prison system.

Although sanitary and medical conditions in police holding facilities varied, overall these conditions were worse than those in the prisons. Some jails were bare, overcrowded, and damp. Few had beds, washbasins, furniture, or utensils. Meals normally were inadequate; friends and relatives routinely had to bring detainees food and water. Although precinct jails were intended to serve only as pretrial holding areas, some suspects were detained there as long as two years, awaiting judicial action on their cases.

Juvenile offenders ages 16 and older were held with the adult prison population. Juvenile offenders ages 15 and younger were held in the NOC, which offered primary education, vocational training, and basic medical care. Problems at the NOC included lax security and understaffing. There were complaints that juvenile runaways, or those out of their guardians’ care, were placed with juveniles who had committed crimes, with the result that some petty offenders became involved in more serious criminal activity.

Since there were no facilities in Georgetown to hold female offenders ages 16 and over, women awaiting trial were held in the same facilities as men. The Prison Authority reported that there were 105 female inmates in the women’s prison located in New Amsterdam. Due to inadequate facilities, juvenile female pretrial detainees were sometimes held with adult female pretrial detainees.

The Prison Authority offered rehabilitation programs focused on vocational training and education; however, such programs did not adequately address the needs of prisoners with substance-abuse problems.”

Country Report on St. Lucia Human Rights Practices

In prison abuse on April 2, 2008 at 8:34 am

The US Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 2007 in St. Lucia found that “prison conditions generally met minimum international standards at the four-year-old Bordelais Correctional Facility, which had a capacity of 500 prisoners and held approximately that number. Some prisoners and family members complained about treatment of prisoners at the facility.

The Boys Training Center, a facility for boys charged with criminal offenses or suffering from domestic or other social problems, operated separately from the prison. The boys in the program normally stay for two years and receive vocational training while enrolled. There were allegations of poor conditions and harsh treatment of the juveniles at the facility, including beatings by police officers.”

However, media and Court reports from St. Lucia have long indicated a state of overcrowding at the island’s prison, especially for remanded persons. As the rate of crime increases in St. Lucia, CURB encourages the authorities to develop alternatives to incarceration in order to ensure that the Bordelais prison does not suffer from the extremes of overcrowding that plague other Caribbean nations.

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