Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The constitution and law prohibit such practices, but there continued to be allegations of police abuse, through either official complaints or allegations made on the radio or in the press. For example, in September, four boys accused two prison guards at the Beau Bassin Correctional Youth Center of physical assault. The two prison guards were only reprimanded.
Impunity was a significant problem in the security forces. While disciplinary actions against offending officers take place, dismissal or prosecutions are rare.
d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention
The constitution and law prohibit arbitrary arrest and detention and provide for the right of any person to challenge the lawfulness of his or her arrest or detention in court. The government generally observed these legal requirements.
Arrest Procedures and Treatment of Detainees
The constitution and law require arrest warrants be based on sufficient evidence and issued by a magistrate. A provisional charge based on a reasonable suspicion, however, allows police to detain an individual up to 21 days with the concurrence of a magistrate. If authorities grant bail but the suspect is unable to pay, authorities detain the suspect in the Grand River North West Prison pending trial. Authorities must advise the accused of his or her rights, including the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. The law requires authorities to arraign suspects before the local district magistrate within 48 hours of arrest. Police generally respected these rights, although they sometimes delayed suspects’ access to defense counsel. Detainees generally had prompt access to family members, but minors and those not advised of their rights were less likely to obtain such access. During the COVID-19 confinement period (March 18 to May 15), prisons did not allow visits. A magistrate may release an individual on bail the day of arrest, with or without police consent. Authorities may detain individuals charged with drug trafficking for up to 36 hours without access to legal counsel or bail. Courts grant bail for most alleged offenses. There was no report that any suspects were detained incommunicado or for a prolonged period without access to an attorney.
Arbitrary Arrest: At least seven citizens were arrested for criticizing the government (see section 2.a.). On September 22, police arrested political activist Bruneau Laurette, who had organized an antigovernment rally that attracted approximately 100,000 persons, due to an alleged bounced check. Laurette claimed that he paid the debt in July. He was released on bail.
Pretrial Detention: According to data from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the NHRC, and the Bureau of Prisons, due to a backlogged court system and detainees’ inability to post bail, a significant percentage of the prison population remained in pretrial detention. In October, 53 percent of detainees were pretrial detainees, according to the NGO World Prison Brief. Lawyers believed that approximately 40 percent of pretrial detainees typically remained in custody for at least three years before going to trial. Judges routinely credited time served in custody against sentences ultimately imposed.