Testimonio sobre los Traslados a la Tolva

VIDEO - Honduras: the supermax prison of Morocelí

The Honduran government has decided to implement maximum-security prisons, inspired by the American "supermax” model", to tackle the phenomenon of violence and corruption that has been deteriorating prisons, and the country in general, for over two decades.

Strict solitary confinement. Cold, metal cells, without windows. Ill treatment, abuse, intimidation. There are three penitentiary facilities of this kind that have been opened in the last two years. The transfers of prisoners to these prisons have multiplied since.

Despite stating that these measures would apply only to the most dangerous prisoners, gang leaders of "Mara Salvatrucha" or "Barrio 18", real motives seem to be much more arbitrary.

As Honduran authorities persist in advancing along the path of inhuman punishment, more and more voices rise to warn against this wrong turn.

Exclusive testimony published by the organization "Centre for Prevention, Treatment and Rehabilitation of Victims of Torture and their Relatives" (CPTRT).

They were not allowed to tell their families they were being transferred

August 24, 2017. 6:00 am

Several army trucks arrive at El Progreso Criminal Center to transfer a hundred "dangerous" inmates to the maximum-security prisons of “Santa Bárbara ", in Ilama, and "La Tolva", in Morocelí. The relatives or legal representatives were not notified of the grounds of these transfers. Neither were the local Sentence Enforcement Courts. The transfers were not backed by any administrative disciplinary rulings that provided reasons for why these inmates were being taken to the “supermax” facilities.

The term "dangerous" could not operate in many cases. Several the inmates were still awaiting trial, some others were school or college assistants, church pastors, elementary or high school students and others were eligible for parole.

Handcuffs and feet tied the whole way. Subjected to insults and intimidation. If they spoke, guards would spray tear gas on them.

They were not allowed to tell their families they were being transferred. Or take their belongings with them. Guards provided only bags of water for a journey that lasted several hours. The person who provided the testimony alleges no one was subject to beatings or physical ill treatment. He says, however, that the arrival was very difficult and humiliating; they took away most of their clothes and left them only in their underwear.**

They went directly to the cells, without a medical examination and without meeting the staff or the director of the facility.

Testimonio sobre los Traslados a la Tolva

Life in these prisons is harsh. Without being able to receive visits from their loved ones, inmates live in emotional isolation.

Life in these prisons is harsh. Without being able to receive visits from their loved ones, inmates live in emotional isolation.

Material conditions are precarious. Authorities do not supply them with blankets to cover from cold at night; to bear it, they sometimes have to lie on the floor and place their mattress on top. They receive almost no pieces of cloth. In order to get help from a fellow inmate in that sense, they must give them one or two of their food rations.

One of the dishes they get served the most is beans with rice and butter. Staff prepares the food. Prisoners are responsible for the cleaning and maintenance of common areas.

They are also not supplied with soap or toilet paper. Toilets are often clogged.

Access to water is really scarce, insists the person who gives the testimony. On average only once a day. There is no drinking water. He also states that the water has a whitish appearance, apparently due to the high amounts of chlorine it contains.

Medical attention takes a lot of time and treatment is not always supplied. One of the most common diseases are hernias, also fever or headaches.

Prisoners leave their cells for barely an hour or an hour and a half a day, sometimes two if guards are in a good mood. They can also spend fifteen days, or even a month, without seeing the sunlight. They are victims of psychological, sometimes physical, ill treatment.

The young man who gives the testimony says some guards cover the face with ski masks to hide their identities.

  • To find out more about Honduras’ punitive turn, its prison conditions and much more, visit the country-profile (in Spanish and French, English translation on the way!).

  • The main NGOs of the country addressed a list of recommendations to government authorities in order to improve the country’s prison system. Examine them on our “Take Action” section (only available in Spanish).**
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