Day of Protest in Colombia's Jails

Published March 22, 2020

Colombia Prison

The night of March 21 was a national day of protest, which included detainees from various penitentiary and prison establishments in Colombia: Picaleña, Jamundí (towers for men and women), Pedregal (towers for men and women), Cúcuta, Picota, Model of Bogotá, Cómbita, Palmira, Buen Pastor de Bogotá. They had the objective of making their voices of disagreement with the national government and prison authorities due to the insufficient measures decreed to prevent COVID 19, to demand the declaration of a prison state of emergency and the adoption of urgent measures of overcrowding.

Since before the pan-slamming began, the Police and the Army had already surrounded the La Picota prison complex (Bogotá) and very soon, the state force went to all the places where the protests were taking place. The agility and effectiveness of the Government’s response, however, has not been such, when adopting the measures to contain the virus, which the prison population, their families and various human rights organizations have been demanding.

The military repression of the protest has claimed lives in the Bogotá Model National Prison and the Cúcuta Penitentiary Complex:

In the Bogotá Model National Prison, expressions of disagreement began at 9:00 at night. From inside the detainees shouted “if the virus enters here we all die”. The guard immediately called reinforcements. Several residents of the place began to report that shots were heard from inside.

In the Cúcuta Penitentiary Complex, a communication was received indicating that since 11:00 pm due to the situation that was occurring and the lack of responses from the Government, “the people went into despair” and started protests in courts and corridors “in search of freedom and in search of solutions”

“There was disagreement in the inmates due to the sanitary conditions and the lack of medicines. They are afraid because if the coronavirus enters it would wreak havoc because the overcrowding makes everyone too close, practically one on top of the other,” said the relatives of the people deprived of freedom.

At this time, in several establishments the situation is complex. They have been locked up outside of normal hours. Complexes such as the Picota, remain besieged by the public force.