Despite extensive improvements to prison infrastructure during the year, prison conditions did not meet international standards, primarily due to overcrowding.
Physical Conditions: As of September there were 735 prisoners and detainees, including 690 men and 45 women. Montagne Posee Prison, the country’s main prison with an intended capacity of 400 inmates, remained overcrowded despite the construction of new facilities. Authorities held pretrial detainees with convicted prisoners. Access to sufficient potable water, sanitation, and hygiene improved in the reporting period. Lighting and ventilation were adequate. A full-time doctor and nurse were available to provide medical treatment and oversee dietary needs, and the prison had a 10-bed infirmary and dental clinic. The 65 prisoners on Coetivy Island were low-risk inmates who reportedly volunteered to be transferred there and worked on construction projects as rehabilitation. The facility also provided a drug rehabilitation program for prisoners not convicted of drug-related crimes. The prison on Marie Louise Island reportedly held only convicted drug traffickers and high-risk prisoners, 98 as of September.
There was one inmate death, reportedly from natural causes.
Administration: In October the government passed an amendment to the Probation Act that provides for community service as an alternative to imprisonment. The government also continued a 2013 program to reconcile offenders with their victims and reintegrate them into society. 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 issued an annual report that includes complaints of and investigations into cases of human rights abuse and corruption, although the ombudsman did not release a report during the year. Statistics pertaining to complaints filed during the year with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) were unavailable at year’s end. The NHRC shares the same chairperson and staff as the Ombudsman’s Office (see section 5).
Authorities allowed prisoners and detainees access to visitors and 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 other religious observances, such as Ramadan. Authorities built a chapel for religious observance during the year. Prison authorities allowed prisoners and detainees to submit complaints to appropriate authorities and request investigation of credible allegations of inhuman conditions. The government investigated on a case-by-case basis and monitored prison conditions regularly.
In partnership with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the government provided training for prison guards in tradecraft, leadership, fire safety, and emergency response. Training for prisoners included information technology, English, and mathematics.
Independent Monitoring: The government generally permitted independent monitoring of prison conditions by local and international human rights groups, all of which were independent. The International Committee of the Red Cross held discussions with government authorities but made no requests for prison visits.
Improvements: During the year the government made numerous infrastructure improvements at Montagne Posee Prison, including construction of a new amphitheater, gymnasium, exercise and sports area, music room, computer room, and recording studio. Bathrooms for male and female prisoners were renovated, and authorities initiated training programs in baking, sewing, and gardening in the women’s section.