N° 114/10




Washington, D.C., November 18, 2010—The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expresses its deep concern over the deaths of at least 21 persons as a result of acts of violence in two prison facilities in Brazil.


According to information the Commission has received, at least three persons died on November 10, 2010, as a result of a brawl in the Raimundo Vidal Pessoa Penitentiary in Manus, in the state of Amazonas. In addition, at least 18 persons died in a riot at the Pedrinhas Penitentiary Complex in the city of San Luis, in Marañón state. The riot ended on November 9, after lasting for more than 27 hours. In both cases, the inmates had reportedly taken hostages as a way of pressuring the authorities.


The Inter-American Commission reiterates that the State is in a position of guarantor with respect to persons deprived of liberty, and as such it has the absolute obligation to guarantee the rights to life and humane treatment of those persons in its custody. Based on this fundamental obligation, the States have the duty to adopt concrete measures to prevent acts of violence from occurring in prisons. Such measures include, for example, establishing early-warning mechanisms to prevent crises or emergencies, and reducing the levels of overcrowding and overpopulation that lead to situations of stress and fights among inmates over available space and services. The IACHR observes that both outbreaks of violence took place in prison facilities with high levels of overcrowding.


The IACHR also urges the State to investigate with due diligence these acts of violence, especially the deaths, in order to clarify the causes, identify the perpetrators, and impose the appropriate legal sanctions. This is essential to keep such acts of violence from being repeated.


A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this matter. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in a personal capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.


Useful links

Principles and Best Practices on the Protection of Persons Deprived of Liberty in the Americas

IACHR Press Office

Website of the IACHR






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