Thousands in Haiti imprisoned without charge or trial: UN

[JURIST] The UN human rights chief in Haiti [JURIST news archive] has accused the interim government of imprisoning 4,000 people "preventively" for months or years without facing charges or trials. According to Thierry Fagart, the human rights field officer in Haiti, many of the prisoners were arrested for political reasons after the February 2004 ouster [JURIST report] of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide [BBC profile], including his former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune and former Interior Minister Jocelerme Privert. Of the 2,000 people in the national prison, only four percent have been sentenced, and officials have refused to accept more prisoners due to overcrowding. Fagart said that "legal procedures have been systematically violated" and called the situation unacceptable.

Next month, the US-supported interim government will transfer power to president-elect Rene Preval [Wikipedia profile; JURIST report] who has mentioned the possibility of a pardon for the political prisoners. Fagart's latest statements echo criticisms by another UN human rights official in November [JURIST report] and statements by Fagart in October [JURIST report] that the human rights situation in Haiti was "catastrophic." Reuters has more.

 

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