Prison violence in Latin America alarming, says UN Human Rights Office

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Countries across Latin America are being urged to improve living conditions in prisons and detention centers, in the wake of a major fire incident in Honduras in which more than 350 prisoners were killed.

The UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) says there was an alarming pattern of prison violence in the region which was a direct consequence of endemic problems such as overcrowding.

Rupert Colville from the UN Human Rights Office says states have an obligation to ensure that conditions of detention are compatible with the prohibitions of torture or other degrading and inhuman treatment.

"OHCHR is concerned that the problems affecting prisons are by no means confined to Honduras. In recent weeks there has been a wave of violence in prisons across Latin America, resulting in loss of lives in Uruguay, Argentina, Venezuela, and Chile. Last year five young inmates lost their lives and many others were injured during a fire in a juvenile detention centre in Panama. These events reflect an alarming pattern of prison violence in the region, which is a direct consequence of – or aggravated by – a range of endemic problems including chronic prison overcrowding, the lack of access to basic services such as adequate floor space, potable water, food, health care, and lack of basic sanitary and hygienic standards. Such conditions are exacerbated by judicial delays and excessive resort to pre-trial detention."

The prison in Honduras which was designed to hold 250 detainees was housing more than 800 inmates when the fire broke out on Wednesday this week.

Duration 51″

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