In general prisons were clean and well maintained, and the staff were professional and maintained proper relationships with and oversight of the prisoners. However, conditions were poor in the many small temporary detention facilities, which tended to be unhygienic and overcrowded.
Physical Conditions: The Department of Corrections operated three prisons and one temporary detention facility. Hazard Prison in Nickerie is the smallest, with 91 prisoners and a capacity of 106. Santo Boma Prison in Wanica is the largest, with 369 prisoners and a capacity of 380. Duisberglaan Prison in Paramaribo has 223 prisoners, with a capacity of 228. Santo Boma was the only prison that held juveniles up to age 18 as well as females. Juvenile females were housed with adult females rather than juvenile males. Females were separated from the male population by a high stone wall; juvenile males were separated from adult males by an open road. Guards were stationed along the road to keep the two populations from mixing. All three prisons were “open systems” in which prisoners were allowed to move around freely within the compound during specified hours. In May 2011 the IACHR rapporteur on prisoner rights visited the prisons and detention centers and expressed concern over hygiene, sanitation, and access to clean drinking water.
Authorities expected prisoners to perform routine maintenance and cleaning. A recently created jobs program permitted inmates from all three prisons to work, inside and outside the prisons, in the agriculture and construction sectors. Inmates could play sports and pursue educational goals at the primary through university level. Prisoners reported that the food was generally good and medical care was sufficient, although on-site facilities were limited.
There was one juvenile detention facility, Opa Doeli, with separate quarters for boys and girls under the age of 18. This facility, located in Paramaribo, provided educational and recreational facilities, and operated at less than maximum capacity.
The Huis van Bewaring facility near Santo Boma Prison is the only temporary detention center run by the Department of Corrections. It had a capacity of 550 and was only five years old. Although originally envisioned as a temporary detention facility for pretrial lock-up, a large portion of its population consisted of convicted prisoners waiting for transfer to one of the three prison facilities. Some convicted prisoners waited months for a cell to open at one of the prisons. The detention center suffered from a shortage of prison staff, which affected its ability to allow prisoners out of the cells for recreation.
Prisoners continued to express concern over conditions in the Santo Boma Prison, where they complained of inadequate food provisions, mistreatment by prison guards, and limited ventilation.
While in general prison facilities were aging but well maintained, temporary detention center facilities had serious deficiencies. The police operated approximately 25 temporary detention facilities attached to different police stations located throughout the country. The IACHR visit found two of these centers, Huis van Bewaring (which is operated by the Department of Corrections, not the police) and Geyservlijt, to be inadequately staffed, overcrowded, and with poor hygiene conditions. Unlike the prisons, there was no dedicated guard force to watch prisoners in the police detention centers, and officers who also worked in other capacities handled this duty as well. Police officers did not receive specialized training to guard prisoners and exercised little oversight of prison-cell activity. The detention center system lacked a core of standard operating procedures; each compound had its own house rules, which were not routinely defined or conveyed to the guard staff.
Poor ventilation, limited lighting, and extreme heat remained problems in detention centers. The law mandates a maximum number of prisoners at individual prison facilities, which created overcrowding at the temporary detention centers. Food was brought in by outside companies rather than cooked in-house. Detainees and human rights groups alleged that meals were inadequate. Detainees often stayed in these temporary facilities for more than a year before trial. The facilities were unhygienic and plagued with lice and mice. Mattresses were not provided due to the risk of lice. Illness spread quickly through the population, and mobile phones (although banned) were reportedly a problem, as was drug use.
The Welzijns Institute Nickerie, a nongovernmental organization (NGO) operating in the western district of Nickerie, continued to visit and provide counseling for detainees in the Hazard Prison. The institute continued a program to train prison officers to counsel detainees.
Administration: Prison record keeping was adequate. In some cases of traffic or economic violations, nonviolent offenders were given fines instead of prison sentences. Prisoners continued to have reasonable access to visitors and could observe religious practices of their choice. No ombudsman served on behalf of prisoners and detainees; prisoners notify their defense lawyers and government officials of any problems. Authorities permitted prisoners and detainees to submit complaints to judicial authorities without censorship. In 2008 prisoners filed a petition with the IACHR claiming the government had denied their requests for higher appeal or early release. The commission deemed the petition admissible in 2010 and was considering it at year’s end.
Monitoring: Government officials continued regular monitoring of prison and detention center conditions. The government permitted monitoring visits by independent human rights observers, and such visits occurred during the year.
Improvements: The government started construction of a new prison facility for convicted juveniles in Wanica next to the Santo Boma Prison to separate youth from adults completely.