Colombia’s prison guards resume protests in an ongoing attempt to force the government to curb overcrowding and improve working conditions, local media reported Tuesday.
According to Nelson Barreras Morales, president of the prison workers trade union SEUP, guards work under dangerous conditions, and overcrowding is detrimental to both inmates and prison workers.
In protest, SEUP members are refusing to receive inmates in facilities where the maximum population already exceeds 200%, and only transferring inmates when there can be secured at least a guard per inmate, Barreras told Colombia Reports.
|“All we are doing is meeting the government and state penitentiaries’ own standards of safety for both workers and inmates.”|
According to the union leader, the protest first began in May and lasted for 8 days, leading to complete chaos within the prisons. The protest was suspended after SEUP workers and government appeared to reach an agreement; however, Barrera said, the government has failed to follow through with its promises.
“All that we are doing is meeting the government and state penitentiary authorities’ own standards of safety for both workers and inmates. We are sometimes obliged to transfer 40-50 inmates in the presence of 10-12 guards. The minimum security scheme is one guard per inmate,” Barreras told Colombia Reports.
The union leader recalled two recent cases where the situation got out of control due to overcrowding and insufficient security conditions in the prison and because of the overcrowding of prisons.
One inmate tried to escape on Tuesday while he was being transferred by plane from the northern city of Valledupar to the capital Bogota, El Espectador reported.
“This incident occurred because of a poor security scheme. Depending on the situation, the inmates must be accompanied by a certain number of guards and what happened this morning is a result of it,” said Barreras later on Tuesday.
The other incident occurred last week in a prison in Santa Marta, which exceeds maximum capacity by 300%, when rioting prisoners attempted to take over the jail, leaving 1 prisoner dead and 11 injured.
A recent report by prison authority INPEC announced a government plan to fight overcrowding by expanding nine of Colombia’s jails and prisons.
The program is set to create 6,300 new cells by the end of 2018 by expanding on nine prisons and jails across the country.
- Interview with Nelson Barreras Morales (Seup trade union president)
- Sindicato del Inpec se declara en paro indefinido (Caracol Radio)
- Fuga de un interno desata balacera en aeropuerto de Valledupar (El Espectador)
- Motín en cárcel de Santa Marta deja un muerto y 11 heridos (El Tiempo)