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Posts Tagged ‘sexual assault’

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.

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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.

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.

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.

Update on TCI Prison Abuse Allegations

In prison abuse, prison sexual abuse, restorative justice on February 13, 2008 at 4:49 am

The Turks and Caicos Sun newspaper has recently published an article in which it has quoted Superintendent of the Grand Turk Prison, Peter White, as strongly denying allegations made and published in the press about prisoner abuse behind the prison walls.

Mr. White made the statements at a press conference on Tuesday February 5th at the prison. Others in attendance at the press conference included Premier Dr Michael Misick, Governor H.E Tauwhare, Minister of Health Dr Lillian Boyce and Minister of Home Affairs Galmo Williams.

The Superintendent outlined the official process for treating with inmate medical complaints, the serving of meals to inmates and instances of physical injury to inmates. However, he did not indicate whether these official procedures are followed in every case.

Earlier that morning, the delegation was joined by Permanent Secretary for Prisons, Mr. Terry Smith, in an official tour of the penal facility and heard from some of the inmates regarding the situation at the prison.

Speaking at the press conference, the Premier expressed his support for the work of the Superintendent and prison staff under what he admitted were trying circumstances. He further assured the nation that the Government would address some of the shortcomings of the prison service in the upcoming budget. One specific area of mention by the Premier was the effort to ensure that no more than 2 persons shared a prison cell.

At present, there are instances where there are three inmates in a cell. However, there is ongoing construction of new buildings to resolve overcrowding. The kitchen facility will also be relocated to this building, thus freeing up space to create more cells. The building is being erected outside the prison enclosure and the kitchen prepares three meals per day, although occasionally ingredients for special diets may not always be available.

The Superintendent reported that educational, medical and counselling facilities have been built, which only await fencing in order to be operational. There will also be a complete learning centre, with state of the art computers, with a full time teacher having been hired to run it. However, no definite time frame for the completion of the outstanding works was oferred.

Governor H.E Richard Tauwhare, in his remarks, assured the public that a full scale investigation has been launched into the media allegations and the findings will be made public as soon as available. He indicated that, so far, the police have interviewed 11 inmates, and they have found no evidence to support the allegations of abuse.

The Governor also announced that the Prison Visiting Committee, chaired by Mr. Huntley Forbes, has undertaken an inquiry into the allegations that is independent of the Superintendent of Prisons, and the Governor.

He did confirm that the police are investigating how journalist, Gemma Handy, gained what he said was unauthorized access to prison inmates and that she could face criminal prosecution for doing so. This investigation and possible prosecution was reported in an earlier blog entry.

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.

TCI Journalist Threatened

In prison abuse, prison sexual abuse, restorative justice, Uncategorized on February 10, 2008 at 11:34 am

In the wake of her ground-breaking article which exposed physical and sexual abuse of prisoners in the Grand Turk Prison, Turks and Caicos Islands journalist, Gemma Handy, has been threatened with prosecution.

CURB has sought to render some assistance to her by notifying several British and international agencies about the alleged abuses at the Grand Turk prison and the threats to prosecute Ms. Handy.

Shocking Allegations of TCI Prison Abuse!

In prison abuse, prison sexual abuse on February 1, 2008 at 9:11 pm

Turks and Caicos Islands journalist, Gemma Handy, has penned an article arising out of an exclusive undercover investigation into Grand Turk Prison, including shocking allegations that inmates are being beaten, starved and physically and sexually abused!

Shocking excerpts are below-

The facility is home to some 125 inhabitants, about a dozen of whom agreed to be named in the newspaper article despite huge risks to their personal safety.

Stories of sexual assaults, the denial of food and water and indiscriminate beatings by officers are rife. Visitors from the Government, watchdogs and independent committees are shielded from the horror.

To those who say inmates should have considered the consequences before committing their crimes, read on before you judge. Each of the 14 individuals who spoke to us is somebody’s son, daughter, sibling or friend.

The lack of rehabilitative measures in the prison has already been blamed in a damning report for its extortionate recidivism rate. And, as the following revelations show, the appalling treatment is turning many once gentle men into violent and emotionally scarred people.

With 37 more prisoners than the maximum population of 88, the institution is seriously overcrowded. Many of the tiny 8ft by 5ft two-bunk cells house three or even four people with the unlucky newcomers forced to sleep on the floor.

Air conditioning is but a distant memory from a former life in these cramped cages with no ceiling fans or even window screens to keep the ever persistent mosquitoes at bay.

Inmates each possess just one sheet to cover the grotty mattresses despite prison regulations stating each be given two sheets and a pillow.

Many of the men we talked to spoke of starvation as a common form of ‘punishment’ along with physical and sexual attacks by officers while numerous others said they had been repeatedly denied vital medical treatment.

A prison warden, who asked to remain nameless for fear of reprisals, contacted the Weekly News after witnessing first hand the ever increasing barbarism taking place.

“The TCI has a growing crime rate and of course the prison plays an important role but I believe in humane treatment; what is going on there is totally inhumane,” he said.

“I understand the inmates have committed crime and need to be punished but being taken away from society is sufficient.

“Instead they are being starved and beaten. Some have been refused medical treatment because they know the nature of what’s been going on will come out.

“There are some who have become malnourished because they are not being allowed to eat and have lost huge amounts of weight.

“Anyone who speaks out or uses profanity is victimised. It’s reached the point where some of the inmates are about to break. They are becoming more angry, violent and revengeful people.

“This will be very bad for the country; it creates serious problems when they get out as they will take revenge on society.

“I believe it will reach the point where officers start getting attacked. We desperately need an independent body to come and look into the situation.

“The Prison Visiting Committee is not allowed to see inmates like they should and they’re never allowed to be alone with them so they can tell them what’s going on without fear of further punishment.”

Patrick Williams, a Bahamian who has been incarcerated since mid-2005, said he had been left blind in one eye after he was not allowed access to a doctor. He is currently seeking legal action against the prison.

Mr Williams said he had been victimised since starting his law suit last year.

Chato Moore says he was stabbed by a guard who arms himself with a knife, in strict contravention to prison guidelines.

“I was stabbed by an officer after getting into a fight with another inmate. The officer rushed me and grabbed me. I tried to push away from him but he had a knife and jumped me.”

He shows me a knife wound on his arm to support his allegation. Opening his mouth wide, he reveals painfully decaying teeth. He has not seen a dentist since arriving at the prison in 2005.

David Williams, a fellow Turks and Caicos Islander, tells me he has 16 months left of an armed robbery sentence.

His allegations are some of the most chilling. He claims to have been sexually assaulted by an officer and given no food at all for two days.

“There is no running water in my cell; a lot of people in maximum security have no drinking water at all. We are treated worse than a dog.”

“It needs to be stopped before they have a riot on their hands. They need to investigate these people and see how they are spending the Government’s money.

“They are lying to society saying they are rehabilitating us. But if that’s the case why do people keep coming back? They make people so angry that when they get out all they want is revenge.”

Akishna Arthur, a 29-year-old Bahamian inmate locked up for receiving stolen goods, has waived her right to anonymity to give details of a sickening sex attack.

She claims she was assaulted by an officer on November 10 last year.

“Sometimes when I was going to court he would say little fresh things to me when we were alone.

“One day he asked me to help him turn on the lights in the TV room. While I was doing it he approached me from behind. He touched me on my private parts and kissed me.

An 18-year-old inmate says he has not seen daylight in a week despite all prisoners being entitled to an hour’s exercise break a day at the very least.

He is one of two youngsters who, according to prison guidelines which state anyone aged 18 or under should be kept in a juvenile block, are being housed alongside adult offenders.

“It’s miserable, I feel frightened,” he says.

Remand prisoner Casey Stubbs says he has no running water in his cell, again in strict contravention to official rules.

Mr Stubbs says inmates are even forced to throw faeces out of the window when the toilets won’t flush, which is often.

Wilkie Arthur, currently on remand for conspiracy to rob, tells me he studied law during a previous stint inside. These days he acts as inmates’ unofficial legal expert. He lists an abhorrent catalogue of goings-on.

“There are officers carrying knives and other prohibited articles but they never get searched. Inmates have been stabbed but have no means or money to get the information out there.

“We are supposed to have free calls to our lawyers but we have to pay even though we have no income.

“One reason there is such a shortage of food is because the officers take home boxes and boxes of food every time the prison buys in its rations.

“It’s as if they think they’re in a grocery store. They take the chicken, the oxtail, all the meat away.”

“One man tried to drown himself in the water tank in the yard. He banged his head inside it spilling blood.

“It was two hours before they found him. And all that time people had been drinking the water.”

Prison is not intended to be an appealing place, a hangout joint. There is no denying most of the people trapped inside its walls deserve harsh punishment.

Still, if these testimonies are to be believed, the treatment amounts to, at best, a widespread violation of prison rules. At worst, it’s little short of torture.

I ask Mr Arthur what he would like to say to people on the outside who may not be overtly sympathetic to the predicament of one who has been imprisoned for the good of society.

“You have to remember most people here are in for petty crime, theft, burglary. This prison don’t need this sort of harsh treatment, most of the inmates are not violent people.

“Many people on the outside do not have family in prison and never have had so they don’t feel what we are going through.

“Having your liberty taken away is sufficient punishment. The duties of the people in charge are not to double or treble our punishment. They should allow us to do our time in peace.”

In a statement issued to the Weekly News, Governor Richard Tauwhare confirmed a police investigation into the prison had been launched.

Click here for full story.

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