New Canadian-funded prison to open soon in Haiti

By Website Editors,
July 29, 2011--A new prison in earthquake-ravaged Haiti is to open soon, thanks to Canadian funding. The enclosed AP article from one week ago explains that the Canadian prison will house 750 inmates in 96 cells. It is being built in Croix des Bouquets, one of the six districts (communes) in the city of Port au Prince.
Canada has talked of building this prison for several years now, but the project was prioritized following the earthquake. During his one and only visit to Haiti, in May, 2010, then-Minister of Foreign Affairs Lawrence Cannon announced a $4.4 million contribution to ensure the prison gets built. Cannon stated that Canada has been assigned by the "international community" the duty of financing and reinforcing "security" in post-earthquake Haiti, namely, the training and equipping of police and prison personnel.
A May 7, 2010 press release by the Government of Canada that was released to coincide with Cannon's visit said the prison in Croix des Bouquets was "close to completion." According to an article in the January 20, 2011 Montreal daily La Presse, three of the six 'security'-related projects that Canada announced following the earthquake have been shelved. One of these was the construction of a new training academy for the Haitian National Police.
The International Center for Prison Studies (ICPS) has just published its updated World Prison Population list. It shows that the rate of incarceration in Haiti is a fraction of its Caribbean neighbours. Haiti imprisoned 55 people per 100,000 of population in 2010, compared to 174 in Jamaica, 213 in the Dominican Republic, 303 in Puerto Rico and 382 in The Bahamas. But according to a 2010 study by the European Institute for Crime Prevention and Control, Haiti's Canada-funded prisons are among the most crowded in the world. And according to the same study, Haiti's prison system has among the highest rates of preventive detention (jailed without charge or conviction) in the world. The preventive detention rate is 68%, according to the ICPS, using published U.S. government figures. Other report place the figure at 80%.
According to a referenced document posted to Wikipedia, Haiti's homicide rate is comparable to the Dominican Republic and slightly higher than many Caribbean island neighbours. The document says the highest homicide rates in the world are in Jamaica, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. (Coincidentally, all of the four named countries have been victims of harsh, U.S.-supported political/military intervention in recent decades.) Haiti's (and the DR's) homicide rate is about one third of those countries.
While Haiti suffers serious problems of crime and social violence, the provision of "security" as used by foreign police and military forces since 2004 is considered by many Haitians as code for, "We run Haiti, not you. Challenge to our authority will be met with force."