In general prisons were clean and well maintained, and the staff was professional and maintained proper relationships with and oversight of the prisoners. Conditions were poor, however, 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 was the smallest, with 98 prisoners and a capacity of 106; Santo Boma Prison in Wanica was the largest, with 347 prisoners and a capacity of 380; Duisburglaan Prison in Paramaribo had 219 prisoners, with a capacity of 228. Santo Boma was the only prison that held juveniles up to age 18 as well as females. Authorities held juvenile females with adult females rather than with juvenile males. A high stone wall separated females from the male population, while an open road separated juvenile males from adult males. Guards stationed along the road kept the two populations from mixing. All three prisons were “open systems” in which authorities allowed prisoners to move around freely within the compound during specified hours. Prisoners reported that the food was generally good and medical care was sufficient, although on-site facilities were limited.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) rapporteur on prisoner rights visited the prisons and detention centers in 2011 and expressed concern over hygiene, sanitation, and access to clean drinking water. Media and the public scrutinized prison security standards and the integrity and quality of the prison guard force after several high profile and violent prisoners escaped during the year, some with and some without prison guard assistance.
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. Construction continued on a new prison facility for convicted juveniles in Wanica, next to the Santo Boma Prison. The new facility will completely separate youth from adult inmates.
The Huis van Bewaring facility near Santo Boma Prison is the only temporary detention center run by the Department of Corrections. It has a capacity of 550 inmates and held 334 in a combination of detainees and convicts. 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 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 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 hygienic 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 detainees 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. Outside companies brought in food rather than preparing it 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. Authorities did not provide mattresses 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, judges fined nonviolent offenders instead of giving them 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 as of November.
Independent 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.