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Archive for the ‘prison sexual abuse’ Category

CURB Attends TASER Seminar.

In prison abuse, prison mental health problems, prison sexual abuse on April 7, 2014 at 3:13 pm

Today CURB was represented among a small group of selected attendees at a seminar on the use of TASERS as a non-lethal tool for law enforcement.

After having campaigned for the end of sexual and physical abuse of prison inmates and detainees for several years, we were interested to hear how TASERS could be incorporated into the prison settings to reduce the extent of physical harm occasioned to inmates.

The seminar took place at A&E Tactical in Trincity Industrial Estate. In addition to CURB, other invited guests were from WINAD (which has been doing excellent work to address the proliferation of small arms in the country), COSTATT’s criminal justice and law lecture team, Chamber of Commerce and a well-known security firm.

We were informed that a similar seminar had been conducted for representatives of the protective services once week before. There were some concerns as to why the police were not using the almost 500 tasers they had purchased over the years. Some persons suggested that there was some doubt as to the legality of the tasers since no specific legislation had been passed authorising their use by police.

CURB is aware that non-lethal tools such as tasers have been incorporated in corrections facilities in developed nations as a means of controlling high risk situations involving inmates. From the research presented at the seminar, there have been relatively few cases of deaths or serious injury from the use of tasers as compared with other traditional tools or instruments for the use of force.

We await with bated breath to learn how this situation unfolds. Hopefully, the owners at A&E Tactical would make a strong lobby for the use of TASERS in the penal system while they wait to hear the outcome of their efforts for the inclusion of the tools by the police.

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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.

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.

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.”

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.

Country Report on St. Vincent Human Rights Practices

In prison abuse, prison sexual abuse, sexual abuse, sexual assault on April 2, 2008 at 8:20 am

The US Country Report for St. Vincent and the Grenadines indicates that “prison conditions remained poor. Prison buildings were antiquated and overcrowded, with Her Majesty’s Prison in Kingstown holding 373 inmates in a building intended to hold approximately 150 inmates, a situation that created serious health and safety problems.

Despite reforms at the Her Majesty’s Prison, problems such as endemic violence, understaffing, underpaid guards, uncontrolled weapons and drugs, increasing incidence of HIV/AIDS, and unhygienic conditions persisted. Corrupt prison staff commonly served as a source of drugs, weapons, and cell phones.

The St Vincent and the Grenadines Human Rights Association reported that guards routinely beat prisoners to extract information regarding escapes, violence, and crime committed in the prison. In March several Muslim prisoners went on a hunger strike to protest poor conditions and the lack of the appropriate food for their Islamic diet. In September a fight between inmates and guards led to a three-day lockdown of the facility.

The Fort Charlotte Prison held nine female inmates in a separate section designed to hold 50 inmates, but conditions were antiquated and unhygienic. Pretrial detainees and young offenders (16 to 21 years of age) were held with convicted prisoners.

Conditions were inadequate for juvenile offenders. Boys under the age of 16 were held at the Liberty Lodge Boys’ Training Center, which takes in boys who can no longer stay at home due to domestic problems or involvement with criminal activity. Most of the 30 boys were at the center because of domestic problems, and only a small number were charged with committing a crime.”

CURB is particularly concerned with the increase in sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV AIDS in this nation’s prisons. Such a scenario can only lead to grave public health repercussions as offenders re-enter society. Moreover, the fact of the increase of such STDs confirms the existence of sexual activity in custody, some of which occurs in circumstances tantamount to sexual assault and abuse.

Country Report on T&T Human Rights Practices

In prison abuse, prison sexual abuse on April 1, 2008 at 6:21 am

In March 2008 the United States Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor published its annual Country reports on Human Rights Practices worldwide.

With respect to Trinidad and Tobago, the report expressed concern over incidents of alleged cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment:-

“Although the constitution and the law prohibit such practices, there were credible reports that police officers and prison guards mistreated individuals under arrest or in detention.”

In referring specifically to prison and detention center conditions, the report conceded that, while conditions in the prison system’s eight facilities were somewhat upgraded, they continued to be harsh.

In purporting to quote the Prison Service Commissioner, the report states that the number of prisoners at the Port of Spain prison, originally designed to accommodate 250 inmates, increased to 599 in 2007, compared to 554 in 2006. The average number of prisoners in each 10- by 10-foot cell increased to a maximum of eight.

According to prison authorities, at the end of 2007 they had brought charges against 23 prison officers for assault and battery or for poor conduct on the job, including possession of narcotics and provision of cell phones to inmates.

One notable incident of death in custody which raises concerns for the safety of prisoners in general is that of the August 3rd death of Letroy Beepath. Mr. Beepath died from alleged blunt trauma to the chest while in remand at Golden Grove Prison.

On August 22, 2007 the police completed their investigation into Beepath’s death and submitted the case to the chief of homicide investigations, where it remained at year’s end.

The September 19, 2007 alleged suicide of Golden Grove Prison inmate Kurt Alexander also raises questions of the safety of incarcerated persons. Mr. Alexander allegedly hanged himself in his cell while awaiting trial for sexually assaulting a four-year-old boy in 2004.

Despite recommendations that he be isolated due to two unsuccessful suicide attempts, Alexander was kept in a cell with six other prisoners.

CURB calls for an independent inquiry to be launched by the Office of the Ombudsman into deaths in custody of remanded and convicted persons over the past 20 years.

We also desire that the Forensic Sciences Department of the Ministry of National Security be mandated to investigate and make notes as to the state of the genital organs and anal cavities of all inmates who die in custody.

It is only in this way that the loved ones of those who die in custody would be able to obtain true justice.

Turks and Caicos Governor Receives Prison Abuse Report

In prison abuse, prison sexual abuse on March 30, 2008 at 9:36 am

Last week, Turks and Caicos Islands Governor, H.E. Richard Tauwhare, received the reports completed following the investigations carried out by the Police and Prison Visiting Committee into allegations of physical and sexual abuse and mistreatment at the prison on Grand Turk.

The Governor indicated that he was satisfied that there were no widespread or sanctioned abuses of power at the prison or any arbitrary or systematic denial of entitlements. However, he conceded that the report reveals the existence of some individual issues which had not been dealt with as effectively as they should have been.

The Governor hastened to add that these individual cases were no reflection on the staff at the prison, who continued to work under pressure in a difficult environment where the prison population was rising quickly.

He expressed hope that the newly appointed Prison Superintendent would continue to make progress in resolving many long-standing issues at the prison.

Further, the Overseas Territories Prison Reform Co-ordinator has now visited the prison to advise on work to improve the prison’s operations and to oversee the introduction of more effective systems and procedures.

The Governor also assured that members of the Prison Visiting Committee will continue to visit the prison on a regular basis and to monitor standards there.

CURB sees this as a confirmation of the work done by journalist Gemma Handy whose recent article on abuses at Grand Turk prompted the investigation by the Governor, police and the Prison Visiting Committee.

Silence from TT Prison Commissioner

In prison sexual abuse, sexual abuse, sexual assault on March 22, 2008 at 6:55 am

Despite a promise made to CURB President, Adrian Alexander, on 28th February 2008 to convene a meeting with stakeholders by mid-March 2008 to discuss prison sexual assault and abuse in Trinidad and Tobago, there has been no word from Prison Commissioner, John Rougier, on the proposed meeting.

CURB’s Adrian Alexander duly submitted a draft agenda for the meeting to the Prison Commissioner’s office by email on 4th March 2008 in compliance with a request by Mr. Rougier.

The agenda covered topics on prison sexual assault and abuse as well as sex offender management in accordance with sentiments expressed by the Prison Commissioner in late February.

There have been no replies to the several email and telephone messages sent by CURB to Mr. Rougier’s office.

CURB remains committed to bring to fruition the Stop Prison Abuse project and has made contact with international professionals in the field to conduct train the trainer workshops for rape crisis counsellors, corrections officers, prison chaplains, prison volunteers and aftercare workers in Trinidad and Tobago during 2008.

CURB Holds Talks With Commissioner of Prisons.

In prison abuse, prison sexual abuse on February 28, 2008 at 6:26 pm

On Thursday 28th February, 2008 CURB President, Mr. Adrian Alexander, had a brief meeting with Mr. John Rougier, Trinidad and Tobago Prison Commissioner, and Mr. Gordon Husbands, Penal Reform and Transformation Unit Director, concerning the issue of prison sexual assault and abuse.

The discussions were a follow-up to a meeting on 6th November, 2007 between Mr. Alexander and Mr. Rougier, days before Restorative Justice Week 2007 when CURB highlighted the issue of prison sexual assault and abuse with the theme, “Not Part of the Sentence”.

The Commissioner expressed his sincere concern over the plight of inmates who may have been coerced into sexual activity as well as those who perpetrate such actions. He indicated that the Trinidad and Tobago Prison Service had begun doing some research into the issue to develop a plan of action to treat with those inmates as well as those convicted by the Court of sexual offences.

He promised to host a meeting between the personnel who had been working on the matter on behalf of the Prison Service and those who have been working with CURB on the Stop Prison Abuse project.

CURB is hopeful that this partnership between the Prison Service and civilian stakeholders will result in the development of comprehensive and effective strategies to eliminate the incidence of prison sexual assault and abuse and to provide a system of care for those who are survivors and perpetrators of such activities.

The proposed meeting between the two teams will take place before mid-March 2008.

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