In response to the protest organized on 21 March by people deprived of their liberty in several Colombian prisons, who were calling for efficient measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which resulted in at least 23 deaths and 83 people being injured in Bogota’s “La Modelo” Medium Security Prison and Penitentiary, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International, said:

“In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic that confronts us, there are growing concerns about the precarious situation of people deprived of their liberty across the Americas. In Colombia, overcrowded prisons make it impossible to isolate people who may have contracted the virus. In addition, limited access to health services and hygiene products, and the lack of constant water supplies, increase the risks of exposure to infection and affect recovery conditions.”

“We must leave no one behind in the face of this pandemic. The Colombian government must immediately implement a strategy for the prevention of infection among the prison population, including a strategy to reduce overcrowding. To this end, it should consider the release of people in provisional detention and the early or conditional release of prisoners at risk. Likewise, the authorities must carry out a thorough, impartial and independent investigation into the use of force during the control of the protest and the reasons that left multiple people dead and injured in order to guarantee access to truth, justice and reparation for the victims and their families.”