CONCERN OVER VIOLENCE IN VENEZUELAN PRISONS
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expresses its concern regarding new acts of violence in Venezuelan prisons at the beginning of 2007.
In the early hours of January 2, 2007, at least 16 people died and 13 others were wounded, following a clash between rival factions of inmates in the Uribana prison, 250 kilometers west of Caracas. On Wednesday, January 3, six inmates died in a fight at the Guanare prison, after their transfer from the Uribana prison in Lara. According to the press, the inmates used firearms and other weapons.
The Commission has monitored with concern the state of insecurity and violence in Venezuelan prisons. In December 2005 and March 2006, the IACHR asked the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to order precautionary measures to protect the life and personal safety of prisoners in two prison establishments and held hearings on the subject during its sessions.
Under international law, the State is required to guarantee the rights of the persons in its custody. In light of the gravity of the situation, the Inter-American Commission reminds the Venezuelan State of its obligation to adopt all measures at its disposal to guarantee the life and personal safety of persons deprived of their freedom. In particular, the State must exercise control over force and discipline in the detention centers, as well as over the entrance and carrying of arms.
The Commission urges the State to consolidate efforts to reform the penitentiary system, while reminding it of its duty to prevent and exhaustively investigate these occurrences, and to try and to punish those responsible.
Washington, D.C., January 5, 2007