The Maranhão State Society of Human Rights (SMDH) and the State Bar of Maranhão (OAB/MA) sent an updated report to the Organization of American States (OAS) on January 17 with information on the deaths that have occurred at the Pedrinhas prison in the state capital of São Luís. The new 24-page document contains photos and information gathered from the facility where more than 60 people have been killed since the start of 2013. Since the last precautionary measure issued by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the OAS, in December last year, another 9 prisoners have been killed in Pedrinhas.
“The Maranhão state government not only failed to take any action in response to the first precautionary measure, but it once again banned civil society organizations from having free access to the prison facility to find out exactly what is going on there,” said the lawyer Rafael Custódio, coordinator of the Justice program at Conectas. Together with representatives of Justiça Global, SMDH and the Human Rights Commission of the OAB/MA, Custódio visited some of the prison cells at Pedrinhas, where he spoke to inmates and gathered new accounts of violations, which were annexed to the document sent to the OAS. Besides providing updated information on the crisis at the prison, the report requests that Conectas and Justiça Global be included as petitioners in the case taken to the international court and that they be guaranteed unrestricted access to Pedrinhas.
Conectas drew attention to the accounts of violations committed by members of the National Security Forces, sent to Maranhão by the federal government, and by the military police, sent with the justification of putting a stop to the killings that were taking place in the prison. “The police forces that received us at Pedrinhas were absolutely anonymous, wearing balaclavas and carrying high caliber guns. I don’t see how this could be a sign of improvement in terms of human rights there”.
Read the report here.