Haitan teenager spends three years in a Haitian jail for against the law he didn’t commit

Renel*, who spent his childhood within the coastal metropolis of Les Cayes in southern Haiti grew up alongside mates taking part in hide-and-seek and marbles, swimming within the river flowing close to his mom’s home, or racing his mates downhill from the yellow-walled grocery retailer in his avenue. However his life was upended when he was accused of theft and incarcerated in a jail in Les Cayes.

“At some point after I was 15, I made a decision to go to my metropolis’s competition after college to have some enjoyable with my mates. As soon as there, a neighborhood shopkeeper, whom I knew by sight, out of the blue arrived, trying offended, and began yelling at me,” says Renel. “Somebody had stolen two geese from him and he thought I used to be the thief. I attempted to elucidate it was a misunderstanding, however he slapped me within the face, leaving me fully surprised. The subsequent factor I keep in mind is that he dragged me to Les Cayes police station by the wrist.” 

After the police heard the person’s theft allegations towards Renel, he severely beat {the teenager} and made him wait alone within the guardhouse for hours with out additional clarification. He was later transferred to a cell.

Renel, freed from detention, walks around his neighborhood in Les Cayes, Haiti.

UNDP/Ruvens Ely Boyer

Renel, free of detention, walks round his neighborhood in Les Cayes, Haiti.

 “The door slammed behind me filling me with terror. I used to be locked behind bars in a cramped cell full of individuals,” says Renel. It was the start of three years of being detained with no trial.

Arbitrary pretrial detention

Renel is a sufferer of what the United Nations calls extreme and arbitrary pretrial detention. It’s thought of an ignored type of human rights abuse that impacts thousands and thousands of individuals all over the world. It causes and deepens poverty, stunting financial growth and undermines the rule of regulation.  Pre-trial detention stays an infinite problem for jail programs all over the world and is without doubt one of the important causes of over-incarceration and overcrowding.

In Haiti, extended pre-trial detention is frequent. In accordance with a report from the United Nations Built-in Workplace in Haiti (BINUH) in June 2021, 82 per cent of the roughly 11,000 individuals, together with kids, detained within the Caribbean nation fell into this class. Susceptible populations discover it notably troublesome to entry justice.

Les Cayes prison in Haiti.

UNDP Haiti/Ruvens Ely Boyer

Les Cayes jail in Haiti.

No authorized defence

After three years of detention with no path, Renel’s case was taken up by the United Nations Growth Programme (UNDP).

 “It was simple to see the seriousness of Renel’s case. He had been jailed as a toddler for a minor offence and was about to spend his youth behind bars with out anybody taking cost of his authorized defence,” says UNDP Analysis officer Wegbert Chery.

“I knew from expertise that prolonged pretrial detention existed in Haiti, however he was so extremely weak to the imperfections within the system that I instantly determined to deliver the matter to the eye of the Authorized Support Workplace.” 

An inmate at a prison in Les Cayes in Haiti.


An inmate at a jail in Les Cayes in Haiti.

Strengthening the authorized system

The Authorized Support Workplace (often called BAL) is an initiative of UNDP, BINUH and the Haitian Ministry of Justice and Public Safety. Launched in Might 2021, it goals to enhance entry to justice for individuals in weak conditions and with restricted assets.

Carried out by UNDP, UN Women, and the UN’s Kids Fund, UNICEF,  BAL focuses on lowering the size of detention of suspects in police stations and detention facilities in addition to decongesting the courts and defending and preserving the rights of victims and witnesses. Crucially, it seeks to restrict the extreme use of custodial measures.

In 2021, UNDP in partnership with BAL in Les, Cayes labored on the instances of 121 individuals (112 males and 9 ladies); sixty-seven regained their freedom.

Renel was one of many lucky ones; he was launched from custody a number of months after UNDP’s intervention and now’s readapting to his former life “After three years of jail, I noticed I had forgotten the best way to my mom’s home,” he says. “Children needs to be in class, not in jail.”

His life is best now, however he nonetheless might face social ostracism due to the stigma of being in jail, even when he was by no means discovered responsible of against the law. 

*Renel is a fictional title to guard the privateness of the person


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