Montagne Posee Prison, the country’s main prison, did not meet international standards, and conditions were poor. Access to potable water remained a problem. Sanitation and hygiene were poor, although a full-time doctor and nurse were on staff to provide medical treatment and oversee dietary needs. The prison system had limited rehabilitation programs and organized activities for prisoners, according to nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).
As of November 30, there were 471 prisoners and detainees, including 450 men, 20 women, and one juvenile. Prison conditions for female inmates were no worse than for male inmates.
Prisoners and detainees had access to visitors and were permitted religious observance. Prison authorities also provided Muslim Somali pirates being held in Montagne Posee Prison with access to imams and permitted daily prayers and religious observances, such as Ramadan. Prison authorities allowed prisoners and detainees to submit complaints to appropriate authorities and request investigation of credible allegations of inhumane conditions. The government investigated on a case-by-case basis and monitored prison conditions regularly.
The government generally permitted independent monitoring of prison conditions by local and international human rights groups. The International Committee of the Red Cross made no requests for prison visits.
During the year 51 inmates considered to be low-risk prisoners were sent to the Coetivy Island Prison as part of a voluntary rehabilitation program. While visitors were not allowed on Coetivy Island, facilities reportedly were adequate, and inmates were allowed to circulate freely on the island.
An ombudsman may make recommendations to the National Assembly and the president to improve conditions for prisoners and detainees, although the ombudsman has no power to enforce such recommendations. The ombudsman generally issues an annual report that includes complaints of and investigations into cases of human rights abuse and corruption. According to the 2010 annual report, 25 complaints alleging human rights abuses were filed, of which 21 were retained for further investigation, and four were dismissed for having no merit.
Authorities did not use alternatives to sentencing for nonviolent offenders, and no steps were taken during the year to improve record keeping.
In partnership with the UN Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the government provided training for prison guards in tradecraft, leadership, fire safety, and emergency response.
On September 9, a new prison wing for Somali pirates opened at Montagne Posee Prison. At year’s end the wing, which was designed for 60 prisoners, held 63 Somali pirates.