Inside Haitian jail where prisoners starve to death and defecate on floors of overcrowded cells while waiting up to eight years for a trial
Some 4,400 inmates are housed in squalid conditions at the National Penitentiary in the centre of Port-au-Prince, just a block away from government headquarters.
Many prisoners sleep in makeshift hammocks suspended from the ceiling or squeeze four to a bunk. They are forced to defecate into plastic bags as there are no latrines in the cells.
Overcrowding, malnutrition and infectious diseases have contributed to an upsurge of inmate deaths at this prison – 21 died just last month.
Visiting relatives are allowed to bring in food and cigarettes to prisoners. But the large majority are dependent on the prison’s meals, served twice a day. The meals are made of rationed supplies of rice, oats or cornmeal.
Conditions in Haiti prisons were considered “inhumane” by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in 2008.
This prisoner, too weak to stand, has been treated at the penitentiary’s infirmary.
Food provisions have been affected by insufficient state funds, according to prison authorities, leading to deadly cases of malnutrition-related ailments such as beriberi and anaemia.
Even clean water was said to often be in short supply.