Torture, sexual violence, degrading and inhumane treatment in Chiapas jails

Newsbreak from the Fray Bartolome de las Casas Center for Human Rights

The government of Chiapas, as shown by the document titled “Violations against human rights in Chiapas jails”, has failed to fulfil its obligation to guarantee and protect the lives, as well as the physical and psychological wellbeing, of the imprisoned individuals in jails within its jurisdiction.

Edited version of a text by Gloria Muñoz Ramírez

San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mex.

In the penitentiary centres of Chiapas there are cruel, degrading, inhumane treatments and punishments, sexual violence,torture, overcrowding, poor hygenic conditions, lack of or poor medical assistance, low legal recourse for those denied their freedom, poor access to education, work, or recreation, forced transfers, and forced nudity, reveals a special report conducted by the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Centre for Human Rights (Frayba).

Since 1989 Frayba been completing an arduous field study in defence of the poorest and most violence-ridden regions of Chiapas, primarily within indigenous communities.

Its founder and president, up until his recent death, was Bishop Samuel Ruiz García, whose charge, since this past 28th of January has remained in the hands of a man no less commited to the defence of the oppressed, Bishop Raúl Vera.

Throughout 2010, Frayba, supported by the city of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, has received complaints from relatives and inmates regarding cruel punishments and treatment, as well as regarding the daily torture experienced within the penitentiary centres of Chiapas, located in the towns of Cintalapa, Comitán de Dominguez, Copainala, Motozintla, Pichucalco, Ocosingo, Tonalá, and San Cristóbal de las Casas.

The government of Chiapas, concludes the document, entitled “Human rights violations in Chiapas’ jails”, fails in its obligation to guarantee and protect the lives, as well as the physical and psychological wellbeing, of its inmates. During 2010, Frayba received 17 complaints from male and female inmates and relatives, a signed total of 2,000,142 individuals. In addition, the testimony of 24 relatives of inmates have been documented that denounce various actions and omissions that penitentiary functionaries have exercised, predominantly direct action towards women, boys, and girls, who are subjected to cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment the moment they enter the jails in order to visit their relatives.

After a detailed and exhaustive documentation of all the received complaints, the Centre for Human Rights confirmed “that a systematic violation of human rights exists in the pentitentiary system of Chiapas, and urges the system to immediately cease all degrading, inhumane treatment as well as torture activities that prevail in the prisons of the state of Chiapas, that the human dignity of relatives and visitors of the inmates be respected, that information regarding the rights, obligations and prohibitions due to the inmate be proportioned directly and clearly, as there is a lack of knowledge present, and in the meantime, exclusivity in terms of information; that there be a prompt and effective investigation into the functionaries (at all levels) that are committing these human rights violations. And, finally, that the actual condition of the inmates in Chiapas be made public and that national and international observers be permitted to verify the state as well as the condition of those aforementioned.

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