Ivan Cepeda Thursday urged the government to take action on the abominable conditions in Colombia’s prisons, amid reported hunger strikes and non-violent protests by inmates.
“It is very important that we resolve the situation as soon as possible. We need to take measures immediately, because the situation in Colombian prisons is very serious,” the Congressman told Colombia Reports on Thursday.
Cepeda obtained information from human rights defence organizations such as the Solidarity Committee, which revealed that hunger strikes and peace protests are taking place in five prisons across the country.
Both the National Prison Movement, an organization for prisoners’ rights, and Ivan Cepeda said that the protests are expected to spread to 39 of Colombia’s penitentiary centers over the next few days.
Cepeda brought the issue to the attention of Justice Minister Ruth Stella Correa and the head of Colombia National Prison Authority “Inpec”, General Gustavo Ricaurte, and asked them to implement immediate measures to confront the situation facing thousands of prisoners in the country’s detention centers, while the new Prison and Penitentiary Code is being discussed in Congress.
The Congressman stated that the only way for the government to resolve the problem is “to discuss [it], consult the experts and make reforms.”
Over the past few years numerous reports of poor health, gross overcrowding and a lack of basic facilities in Colombia’s prisons have emerged. This week three inmates died in Medellin‘s Bellavista prison, two as a result of illness and one during a fight, raising the number of deaths in the prison in 2013 up to six.
Cepeda will hold a conference with human rights committee members from 10 of the worst affected prisons on April, 24 with the participation of the justice minister and an inter-institutional committee of the penitentiary and prison system.
- Interview with Ivan Cepeda April, 11, 2013
- Iván Cepeda denuncia que hay huelgas en 5 cárceles del país por hacinamiento (Radio Santa Fe)
- Denuncian huelgas de hambre en cinco cárceles del país (El Tiempo)