80 detainees escape Haiti prison

Kalerkantho Online   

13 February, 2019 09:20 AM

80 detainees escape Haiti prison

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At least six people have died in nearly weeklong protests demanding that President Jovenel Moise resign in Haiti, which saw fresh tensions and a major prison break Tuesday.

All 78 detainees at the prison in Aquin, a city of around 100,000 on the south coast of the country's Tiburon Peninsula, escaped around midday, a national police spokesman said, reports AFP.

The exact circumstances of the prison break are unclear, but witnesses said it took place during an anti-Moise demonstration in front of the police station adjoining the penitentiary.

Some 200 kilometers (120 miles) north of the prison, Port-au-Prince also saw clashes between police and hundreds of protesters in working-class neighborhoods.

Thousands of people took to the streets. After police forces dispersed them, some set fire to cars and looted stores to express their mounting frustrations over growing social inequalities worsened by systemic corruption.

A youth was also shot dead at a crossroads near the presidential palace.

The former French colony is in the grip of a political crisis that has seen citizens demonstrate in the capital Port-au-Prince and elsewhere over the last week to demand Moise's resignation.

Barricades have sprung up in some areas of the capital and other cities, with protesters demanding the president answer reports of mismanagement and possible embezzlement of development funds in the impoverished Caribbean nation.

Police only provided a toll after the first day of nationwide protests on February 7, with two killed on the sidelines of the marches. Since then, AFP has counted four other people shot dead.

Amid the degradation in security conditions, the US State Department ordered all minor children of diplomats posted at the American embassy in Haiti to leave the country.

In a statement, the agency also "approved the authorized departure of adult family members and non-emergency US personnel. "

Prison conditions in Haiti are considered to be among the most inhumane in the world by human rights groups. Detainees face extremely crowded conditions, poor hygiene, food shortages and a lack of health care.

The justice system is notoriously slow and has been blamed for contributing to the crisis.

In October, an investigation found that three quarters of the 11,839 people imprisoned in Haiti were still waiting for a court ruling -- a delay that has sometimes stretched beyond a decade.