NGOs denounce proposal to keep prisoners in shipping containers to combat Covid-19
In an urgent appeal submitted to the UN and the OAS, organizations criticize inhumane accommodation as a response to the pandemic in the prison system
Detainees in the Triage facility at the Pedrinhas prison complex show the scars on their
feet caused by scabies. Photo taken during an inspection by the organizations
Conectas, Justiça Global and the Maranhão Society of Human Rights in April 2018.
The CNPCP (National Criminal and Prison Policy Council) will vote today, April 28, on the request made by Depen (National Prison Department) for authorization to use shipping containers as prison cells during the Covid-19 pandemic. Given the seriousness of the proposal, more than 70 civil society organizations submitted
complaints this Monday, April 27, to the UN and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
The organizations, formed by jurists and experts on the prison system, are asking the UN and the IACHR to take measures to stop the use of containers to hold prisoners in Brazil. These containers do not have adequate ventilation, they expose prisoners to high temperatures and they violate the principle of human dignity, by exposing detainees to degrading treatment.
- Read the urgent appeal submitted to the UN and the OAS
The request submitted to the CNPCP asks for the suspension of the Basic Guidelines for Prison Architecture in order to permit the creation of new places in containers for prisoners in the risk group, for infected prisoners with minor symptoms and as temporary facilities for medical treatment. In the request by Depen, it says these structures could “remain a legacy for prison units”, including for triage and temporary admission of prisoners.
According to the organizations, the proposal expands the state of confinement by limiting outdoor recreation, air circulation and contact with any environment outside the container.
“In spite of previous cases of gross violations that include the case of Altamira, when prisoners died from burns and asphyxiation and the incident was described as cruel and inhumane treatment by the Superior Court of Justice, this new Resolution is already scheduled for tomorrow,” said the organizations in the document submitted yesterday to the UN and the OAS. “In this regard, we stress the urgency of the situation, given the proximity of establishing, on the national level, serious human rights violations with irreparable damage,” they concluded.