Investigations Interview

Uruguay: The straw that broke the camel’s back

Riots provoked changes in prison.

The Executive Power of Uruguay remitted the Bill on the Organisation of the National Prison System to the parliament. This bill aims to transform the National Institute of Rehabilitation (INR, Instituto Nacional de Rehabilitación), the body that governs prisons, into a decentralised entity that is accountable to the Ministry of Education and Culture in order to stress the importance of psychological, social, and educational intervention for persons deprived of liberty. If it is approved, this new organisation would come into force in February 2021.

After several years of being on hold, the bill comes into effect following a particularly violent riot that took place recently at Santiago Vásquez Penitentiary (formerly Comcar). A similar incident, notorious for its brutality, occurred in 2002 in Liberty Prison where both leaders of the rebellion destroyed facilities and murdered fellow prisoners who opposed them.

Prison Insider has recently translated an investigation initially published in Spanish. See below to read the English version.

Juan Miguel Petit wrote that the place had experienced “an incident expressly condemned by international law and comparable to torture.”