U.N. human rights official deplores number of prisoners detained without trial in Haiti

A U.N. human rights official criticized Haiti's justice system for jailing hundreds of people without charge, including an activist priest he compared to a political prisoner. Louis Joinet's comments Monday marked one of the strongest recent condemnations of Haiti's inefficient and corruption-prone justice system from a member of the international community.

The exact size of Haiti's prison population isn't known, but the overcrowded National Penitentiary in the capital of Port-au-Prince holds more than 1,700 inmates, only a few dozen of who have been charged.

Neptune has spent more than a year in jail on accusations of masterminding the killings of political opponents. Jean-Juste has been jailed since July for alleged involvement in the abduction and slaying of a well-known Haitian journalist. Both men deny the charges.

Haitian officials weren't immediately available for comment. Joinet's visit comes as Haiti's interim government and the United Nations struggle to prepare for national elections scheduled for early next year, the first polls since Aristide fled into exile amid a February 2004 revolt, the AP reports.

The elections have been pushed back several times because of logistical snags and violence blamed on street gangs.


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