INTER-AMERICAN AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS EXPRESSES ITS CONCERN OVER THE SITUATION IN THE URSO BRANCO PRISON IN BRAZIL
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expresses its deep concern over the situation in the Urso Branco prison, in the city of Porto Velho, Rondonia, Brazil.
Based on information received by the IACHR and according to news broadcasts, the situation in the Urso Branco prison has deteriorated in the past few days to the point where at least nine persons there have been killed–some of them in public–by other inmates. Corpses have been mutilated; there has been a public display of body parts; and, it appears that more than 160 persons are being held hostage in the prison, in the context of an alleged uprising.
In that regard, it is to be noted that due to the high number of deaths that occurred under similar circumstances in 2002, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, at the request of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, issued on June 18, 2002, provisional measures requiring the State of Brazil, inter alia, to “adopt the necessary measures to protect the life and personal safety of all inmates in the Urso Branco Prison”; one of them being “to seize whatever weapons are in the hands of inmates of that prison.” These protective measures were prescribed taking into account the context of the conflicts and the violence that had taken place in that prison.
The deceased inmates and those persons who are still in grave danger today are among those protected by the above-mentioned provisional measures, which are still fully in force at this time. The Inter-American Commission considers that these events reveal that the State of Brazil has not fully complied with the provisional measures ordered by the Inter-American Court with a view to safeguarding the basic rights of the inmates of that prison.
The Inter-American Commission, which is currently considering a petition related to living conditions in that prison, urges the State of Brazil to duly comply with the provisional measures prescribed by the Inter-American Court and to adopt all measures needed to find an appropriate solution to the current situation in the Urso Branco prison and to avoid a repetition of such incidents of conflict, violence, and death in the future.
Washington, D.C., March 19, 2004