Human Rights Watch ha señalado que Brasil debe retomar el control del sistema penitenciario, actualmente dominado por pandillas, y garantizar la seguridad de todas las personas presas.

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“During the past several decades, Brazilian authorities have increasingly abdicated their responsibility to maintain order and security in prisons,” said Maria Laura Canineu, Brazil director at Human Rights Watch. “That failure violates the rights of prisoners and is a boon to gangs, who use prisons as recruiting grounds.”

On January 1 and 2, 2017, 60 detainees died in two prisons in the state of Amazonas, allegedly as a result of gang violence. Another 22 were killed in prisons in Roraima, Rondônia, and Acre in October 2016. Under Brazilian as well as international human rights law, Brazil’s government is obligated to protect prisoners from violence and abuse behind bars. Prisoners in Brazil are three times as likely to be homicide victims as members of the general population, according to the Ministry of Justice.

The country’s prisons, built to hold about 372,000 people, held more than 622,000 in 2014, the last year for which official data exists. Overcrowding and understaffing make it impossible for prison authorities to maintain control within many facilities, leaving inmates vulnerable to violence and gang activity, as Human Rights Watch documented in the states of Pernambuco and Maranhão.

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Thumbnail: Flickr CC Melissa Robison