Friday, April 16, 2004

He went down

file under this category. Le Monde reports:
As a silent march of a hundred people was unfolding on April 13 before the house of detention in Epinal (Vosges), the family of Erhan Celik, an 18 year-old from Metz who committed suicide on April 3 while in solitary confinement inside this prison, announced their intention to seek official redress before the administrative court of Strasbourg.

"It's plain to see that all the alarms were going off in this case and that the boy's life was in danger," says attorney Dominique Boh-Petit, lawyer for the parents of the boy. "Since his incarceration a year ago for petty crimes, Erhan attempted on seven occasions to end his life. Though transfered four times, he only received two days of psychiatric attention."

In a letter sent January 9 2004 to the regional office of the Strasbourg penitentiary administration, Mr. Tahsin Celik, Erhan's father, stated his worries: "I am very worried for my son. Since his incarceration in Metz, then in Nancy, he has repeatedly attempted suicide. We are suffering from constant anguish." On January 13, the Nancy (Meurthe-et-Moselle) prison director answered, saying that "both medical and correctional services are available in his area." Erhan Celik, who continued his attempts in the interim, was transfered on March 25 from Nancy to Epinal, after a two-week stay in a psychiatric ward. Several days after his arrival in les Vosges, he hung himself from the bars in a solitary confinement cell where he had just been sent for knocking over a guard. "By locking this boy up more than a hundred and fifty kilometers from his family and placing him in solitary confinement, where the likelihood of successfully committing suicide is seven times greater than in normal detention, the penitentiary administration knowingly increased the risk factors," said François Charlier, of the International Prison Observatory (OIP). "This matter typifies what not to do and runs counter to the recommendations of the psychiatrist Jean-Louis Terra, author of a report on suicide in prison." According to OIP, 120 prisoners committed suicide in 2003.
NB: 71 prisoners were executed in the United States last year, according to AI, versus France's 120 suicides (and given that the US has five times the population...) MiF noted this last year, saying that this was "a death penalty that dares not speak its name."

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