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News > Colombia

Colombia: Prison Riots Under Investigation

  • "La Modelo" prison, in Bogotá, capital of Colombia. | Photo: Twitter/@chikistrakiz

Published 23 March 2020

Colombia Ombudsman's Office requested the government to decree the prison emergency state and confirmed there was no escape

The Colombian Prosecutor's Office will open an investigation into the deaths of  23 inmates after protests on March 22. The prisoners requested the government instittute preventive measures against the Covid-19 inside the prison facility. The demonstration resulted in violence and the death of several inmates.


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 The legal body said in a communication: "Because of these regrettable events in which 23 inmates at the La Modelo Prison in Bogotá lost their lives in an attempt to riot and escape, and two more in the Cómbita prison in Boyacá. The Attorney General's Office initiated an investigation into these events. It will also interview the inmates implicated in the events.  

In addition to La Modelo, there were demonstrations in the prisons of La Picota and El Buen Pastor in Bogotá, the latter being a women's prison; as well as in the maximum security prison of Cómbita in the department of Boyacá; in Picaleña (Ibagué); in Jamundí (Valle del Cauca), and in Pedregal and Bellavista in Antioquia, among others.

Margarita Cabello Blanco, Minister of Justice, stated that the La Modelo riots ended in 23 killed and 83 wounded.  The functionary omitted the two inmate deaths in Cómbita's Prison.

"Under the leadership of the Attorney General, Francisco Barbosa, an investigation was launched into riots in the country's prisons."

On its side, the Colombia Ombudsman's Office requested the government to decree the prison emergency state and confirmed there was no escape. The popular institution affirmed there was no escape and requested the Ministry of Justice to "urgently convene a virtual session of the Superior Council of Criminal Policy, to articulate all State institutions in the search for a solution to the prison crisis".

For its part, the Committee for Solidarity with Political Prisoners requested preventive measures for the containment and effective management of Covid-19. According to this organization, the Colombian prison system does not have sanitary conditions to prevent the spread of the virus.

The organization pointed out that such situations make the people held in the country's prison structures particularly vulnerable since it is not in their hands to control the health of possible contagion, but rather the responsibility of the prison staff.

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