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iciHaiti - BDHH : Restitution of a study on the criminalization of poverty
04/01/2024 08:30:40

iciHaiti - BDHH : Restitution of a study on the criminalization of poverty
The Office of Human Rights in Haiti (BDHH) in partnership with the Center for Research and Exchange on Security and Justice (CRESEJ) carried out, with the support of the Knowledge and Freedom Foundation (FOKAL), a restitution workshop on the criminalization of poverty.

The restitution of the study aroused various reactions among the participants, with affirmative, opposing positions, and concerns expressed towards the situation of the judicial system and detainees in Haiti.

According to the results of the study, the majority of people incarcerated are there because of begging, vagrancy or informal trade, highlighting a need for assistance rather than sanctions. Furthermore, detainees for minor offenses, normally sentenced to a maximum sentence of 2 years, remain in prison for prolonged periods, sometimes for 3 years or much more.

The study also reveals that many prisoners are young professionals, most having never had recourse to a lawyer or undergone a trial. Some have been imprisoned in an arbitrary, discriminatory manner, or because of their origin, physical appearance, or simple presence at the scene of arrests and crimes.

The speakers strongly criticized the presumption of guilt suffered by prisoners, emphasizing that before being judged, they are presumed innocent.

Still according to this study, it is mainly disadvantaged people who find themselves behind bars, while wealthy people often manage to avoid justice or even not appear in court.

The workshop concluded with a call to actors in the Haitian justice system to change their behavior, respecting the rights of prisoners, applying the law with dignity, ending discrimination against disadvantaged people and guaranteeing justice fair to all, whether rich or poor.

IH/ iciHaiti

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