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Archive for the ‘sexual assault’ 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.

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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.

Delay in Antigua Prison Sexual Assault Report

In sexual abuse, sexual assault, Uncategorized on March 30, 2008 at 10:24 am

In Antigua, allegations of sexual harassment at Her Majesty’s Prison (HMP) are being investigated by an independent committee established in early February, 2008 by the Ministry of Justice and Public Safety.

The allegations were made against Eric Henry, superintendent of Her Majesty’s Prison, by several female prison officers. Recently, however, similar allegations have been levelled against a few male prison officers.

The committee comprises Chairperson Rosa Lee, Bishop Kingsley Lewis, Sheila Roseau, director of the Directorate of Gender Affairs and Joan Moses, the committee’s secretary.

Initially the committee was to have submitted its report on 29 February 2008. However, an extension was granted to 31 March 2008. According to Minister Derrick, a press conference will be held subsequent to the release of the report, at which time the members of the committee will discuss their findings.

Henry has had these allegations levelled against him since July, 2007 but it was only in January, 2008 that several female officers spoke out to the media and alleged that they were propositioned by the prison superintendent.

CURB hopes that justice is done in the aftermath of this investigation and encourages the Antigua media as well as Minister Derrick to initiate an inquiry as to whether prisoners in Antigua have also experienced sexual assault and abuse from male prison officers.

Inmates represent a voiceless population and may well have endured similar or worse assaults but do not have the ear of the media to ventilate their woes.

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.

Listen To Prison Rape Testimony

In prison abuse, prison sexual abuse, restorative justice, sexual abuse, sexual assault on February 10, 2008 at 5:27 pm

CURB recorded the following graphic testimony of a prison rape during our radio discussion on the issue in November 2007 as part of our Restorative Justice Week activities.

This audio is NOT suitable for minors!

Please click to listen or download the audio Testimony.

Suicide Prompts Probe of BVI Prisons

In prison abuse, prison sexual abuse, restorative justice, sexual abuse, sexual assault on February 1, 2008 at 8:46 pm

In the British Virgin Islands, the recent apparent suicide of an inmate has led to the launch of an investigation into the operations at Her Majesty’s Prison.

Andrew Fahie, the minister with responsibility for prisons, announced in January that in the wake of the death of inmate Patrice Grant, 30, who was found hanging in his cell from a bed-sheet on December 31, 2007.

Fahie referred to Grant’s death as an unfortunate event in the history of the country and expressed condolences to Grant’s family. He pledged that proactive measures would be implemented forthwith to avoid such incidents as well as other incidents recurring.

The mandate of the investigative team is to examine and revise the daily activities and procedures at the prison by both prison officials and inmates; review and revise the daily supervision of inmates; review the daily procedures at the prison by prison officials; examine and make recommendations about the inmates concerns and welfare; and examine and make recommendations about prison officials concerns and welfare.

Fahie assured that the investigation team is in no way aimed to belittle the work of the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force, the Prison Visiting Committee or any prison officials, but rather one in which we can take a closer look at the day to day operations at Her Majesty’s Prison and improve on the weaknesses of this institution and strengthen the strengths.

CURB believes that there needs to be an increase in the attention paid by prison officials to the emotional wellness of incarcerated persons. The trauma of the criminal justice process, separation from loved ones, prison conditions and the prison sub-culture are all unspoken ‘additions’ to the sentences delivered by judges and magistrates.

Without proper infrastructural changes within prisons and programmes to assist inmates treat with the challenges of these factors, self harm, inmate-on-inmate violence and re-offending post-discharge are hardly likely to be eradicated.

HIV AIDS in Caribbean Prisons

In prison abuse, sexual assault on December 31, 2007 at 8:32 pm

In December 2007, CURB reported in its RJ Blog a news item relating to the rate of HIV AIDS in regional prisons based on an article coming out of Jamaica.

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