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El Salvador mega-prison to begin operations amid controversy over human rights abuses

2023-02-03T22:24:37.253Z


El Salvador authorities reported that the transfer of detainees to the new mega-prison will begin soon, but declined to give a specific date.


This is the inside of the mega-prison in El Salvador 1:40

(CNN Spanish) --

The authorities of El Salvador reported that the transfer of detainees to the Terrorism Confinement Center will begin soon, although they refused to reveal a specific date citing security measures.

During a guided tour by the authorities, a CNN team was able to enter this Thursday the maximum security prison built in the municipality of Tecoluca, in the department of San Vicente, some 74 kilometers from the capital.

According to the authorities, in each of the eight modules built in the gigantic jail there will be 5,000 prisoners and, in each cell, just over 100 inmates, who will not have the opportunity to leave, unless they must participate in a hearing that will be held. It will take place via videoconference, in the same venue.

"The cabins, the two toilets per cell, the sinks so they can bathe and the water that will be controlled by the inmates is the only thing that the gang members who are in the confinement center will have," explained Romeo Rodríguez, Minister of Public Works. from El Salvador and one of the officials in charge of building the prison.

During the tour, the press was able to enter the cells, in which there are three columns of metal cabins in which the inmates will sleep, without the opportunity to have mattresses, Rodríguez confirmed.

President Bukele and his officials have led a broad campaign to promote and defend this project this week, which the president considers a fundamental part of winning the war against the gangs.

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In the cells, the inmates will have two toilets and, according to Rodríguez, they will have to bathe right there.

"It's almost like putting the death penalty on him, but with extreme suffering that can be considered torture," says Zayra Navas, a lawyer for the Cristosal Foundation, a non-governmental organization in El Salvador that has legally supported relatives of detainees during the exception regime.

Security agents from El Salvador's new mega-prison stand guard outside the cells on February 2, 2023. (Credit: Alex Peña/Getty Images)

The pavilions of this new mega-prison in El Salvador are located on 23 of the 165 hectares of land located far from the city.

"No patios or recreation areas have been built. There are no conjugal spaces either, as was the case in different penal centers," added Rodríguez.

Human Rights Watch has also criticized what it considers "generalized violations of human rights" with the implementation of the emergency regime and has expressed that the new prison does not meet ideal conditions.

The UN calls for improving prison conditions

The Committee Against Torture of the United Nations Organization urged the government of El Salvador in November to reduce overcrowding in prisons and ensure dignified treatment of persons deprived of their liberty.

Likewise, he asked to carry out a strict separation between prisoners without a final sentence and those who already have a sentence handed down by a judge.

Since the end of March 2022, when the emergency regime was implemented in response to a surge in violence that left 62 murders in a single day, the Government of El Salvador has captured more than 62,000 people, according to security authorities. public.

The government, which will submit a report to the Committee next November, says that the new prison complies with international security standards.

In addition, it considers that the measures adopted, such as the implementation of the security plan called Territorial Control and the emergency regime, have made it possible to reduce the levels of violence.

"El Salvador closes the month of January with an annualized rate below two homicides per 100,000 inhabitants," President Nayib Bukele said on Twitter.

The president has accused those who criticize his security plan of defending the rights of criminals over those of the population.

Look at the new mega-prison in El Salvador 4:19

Authorities say escapes from El Salvador's new mega-prison will be impossible

During the guided tour, the authorities showed a group of journalists the strict protocols for entering the facilities, which includes the use of body and package scanners.

The wards where the cells are located are made of concrete and reinforced steel doors, which authorities say will make escape impossible.

In addition, there are several security rings that include electrified fences and video surveillance.

The prison also has 600 military personnel and 250 police officers in charge of custody both day and night.

The authorities say that the controls will prevent inmates from entering illegally and that they will apply the same rigor with the custodians.

The mega-prison was built in seven months, within the framework of the implementation of the exception regime, without the authorities revealing the cost of its construction and operation until now.

Source: cnnespanol

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