Sunday, August 4, 2013
On Friday, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) presented its Report on the Situation of Persons Deprived of Liberty in Honduras. The IACHR Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons Deprived of Liberty, Commissioner Rodrigo Escobar Gil, headed the delegation that presented the report to the President of the Republic, Porfirio Lobo; to family members of the victims of the fire at the National Penitentiary of Comayagua; to other high-level State authorities; and to civil society organizations and the people of Honduras, through the media. The following is taken from an IACHR Press Release.
“The prison system in Honduras is dehumanized, miserly, and corrupt. Living conditions in the prisons are completely contrary to human dignity,” said Rapporteur Escobar Gil. “The authorities of the State of Honduras, in all branches of government, must foster a radical change of attitude toward the prison system and react urgently and forcefully to the profound structural crisis the system is undergoing,” added the Commissioner, who held several meetings with State authorities to analyze the report’s conclusions and recommendations.
“There are measures that were adopted following the tragic fire at Comayagua. However, far from the necessary resources being allocated to implement these measures, the budget for this area has been reduced. The State and society have been insensitive to the needs of persons deprived of liberty,” the Rapporteur said. “It is essential that the State take on this crisis in the prison system as one of its priorities, because the system has totally collapsed and as a result, the fundamental rights of prisoners are being systematically violated,” he added.
The report emphasizes that it is essential for an adequate budget to be allocated so that the prison institutions can operate. Along these lines, Rapporteur Escobar Gil stated, “It is unacceptable for the State authorities to say that these obligations should be funded by private donors or by international cooperation partners. These problems are the responsibility of the State, and it is the State’s duty to
assign sufficient resources.”
The IACHR Rapporteur emphasized that one of the report’s conclusions is that the grave structural crisis in Honduran prisons is the result of the absence, for decades, of comprehensive public policies that would ensure that the corrections system complies with the purposes of the American Convention on Human Rights, namely, the reform and social rehabilitation of convicted prisoners. “The State’s response to problems of crime and citizen insecurity must not consist exclusively of repressive measures, but also of preventive ones. In this category, we should include prison-system improvement programs designed to promote work and education in prisons as an appropriate means to reintegrate prisoners into society,” the Rapporteur said. “These types of programs would reduce the levels of recidivism, and thus crime rates would go down.”
The report ends with a series of general conclusions and recommendations for the State, geared toward overcoming the critical situation of the Honduran prison system. The IACHR recommended, among other things, that the State reduce overcrowding and ensure that inmates are held in decent conditions that are in accordance with the principle of humane treatment. The recommendations include some that demand urgent and immediate implementation, such as the need to put an end to
an aberrant situation such as the lack of effective segregation of male and female prisoners in some facilities, such as the San Pedro Sula National Penitentiary.
The report also recommends that the State of Honduras firmly and without delay support the measures necessary to retake internal control of all prison facilities, such that it is the State that exercises internal security over the prisons as well as all of the functions inherent in prison administration—matters that may not be delegated to the prisoners themselves. In this regard, the IACHR strongly called upon the State to eradicate once and for all the practice of ceding disciplinary powers to the prisoners themselves, particularly the possibility of applying sanctions.
For more details regarding the Report, click here.