French court gives Marseille prison boss rat ultimatum
France’s Director of Prisons has been given ten days to come up with a detailed programme to rid the notorious Les Baumettes prison in Marseilles, of rats and insects, after a recent report describing shocking conditions there.
The country’s highest court has ordered the move, also demanding that all cells have adequate natural or artificial lighting and that rubbish accumulating in communal areas be removed speedily.
The deputy head of the French prison service, Julien Morel D’Arleux told French radio station France Inter on Sunday that an operation to eradicate the rats and insects will start on Wednesday.
Since the publication of the report on conditions at the prison two weeks ago, 30 prisoners have been given the responsibility of ensuring hygiene in the prison and 6 people are now helping with the renovation of decrepit cells.
But the International Observatory of Prisons wants the prison closed, declaring that the measures ordered by the French court are not enough.
“It’s heading in the right direction but it is a half-measure which is largely insufficient. It’s like cauterising a wooden leg”, said Lionel Febbaro, of the Interational Observatory of Prisons.
“You get rid of the rats but you don’t get rid of the problems of violence which are linked to overpopulation [in the prison]” he added.
Visitors have also complained of exposed electricity wires which could be dangerous.
Prison staff, visitors and inmates have been calling for the closure of the prison for over 20 years, and in 2006 the Council of Europe described Les Baumettes as a “repugnant place”.
A restructuring project is scheduled to finish in 2017.