The Venezuelan Prison Observatory (OVP) and the National Commission on Human Rights of the Venezuelan Bar Association Federation (CNDHFCAV), pronounced themselves on the unfortunate events registered on Friday, May 1st of this year, in the Los Llanos Penitentiary Center (CEPELLA) located in the city of Guanare, Portuguesa State, in which at least 47 inmates died and another 75 ended with serious injuries.
In view of the above-mentioned fact, made clear their position in the following terms: We express, in moments of deep sorrow, our sincere condolences to the families of the prisoners who lost their lives at the hands of those responsible for their custody and protection on behalf of the de facto government. Likewise, we offer our accompaniment to demand justice and respect for human rights before national and international bodies.
According to versions collected at the site, the inmates claimed that they had not received the food that their relatives had taken to the prison, which is allegedly being held by Bolivarian National Guard (GNB) troops. This prompted them to approach the fence that divides the administrative area from the prevention and authorities, to protest this shameful fact, receiving in exchange shots against their humanity.
We reject the thesis of the escape, revolt, fight or mutiny among the inmates, as well as the confrontation with the prison guards, declared by the Ministry of People’s Power of Prison Services, since no inmate was found outside the prison, all died or were injured inside the prison facilities, i.e. they were massacred by shots from the uniformed personnel which, given the high number of dead or injured victims, is evident the disproportionate reaction carried out by the officials towards the prisoners. It must be reported that the Los Llanos prison has an installed capacity for 750 inmates, but at the time of the tragedy there were 2,500 persons deprived of their liberty on the premises, which according to international standards implies 333% critical overcrowding, which is currently worsening as the minimum requirements to prevent the spread of Covid-19 are not met, such as the use of mask, gloves, and disinfection of physical spaces.
These violent actions against inmates flagrantly violate the provisions of Articles 19, 21, 23, 43, 45, 46, and 272 of the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, relating to the guarantee of human rights, equality before the law, and the principles of the prison system. Additionally, the principle of Respect for Human Rights and the Rights of Persons Deprived of Liberty, established in Articles 4 and 15 of the Organic Penitentiary Code.
As well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (Mandela Rules); the Principles and Best Practices on the Protection of Persons Deprived of Liberty in the Americas; the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners.
– It is imperative that the full identity of the victims, both the dead and the injured, be published as soon as possible so that their families can be sure of the condition of their loved ones. Likewise, that the bodies be given to the family members for burial in accordance with the religion they profess, and in respect for the dignity of every human being.
– An immediate, exhaustive, and impartial investigation, for the purpose of establishing the veracity of the facts, who are the material and intellectual responsible parties for the deaths and injuries of those deprived of liberty so that they are brought to justice.
– Comprehensive reparation covering the families through: (a) investigation of the facts; (b) satisfaction through acts for the benefit of the victims; (c) guarantees of non-repetition of the violations; and (d) compensation for material and non-material damage.
– We request a strong pronouncement by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the IACHR’s Office of the Rapporteur for Persons Detained in the Americas, repudiating and rejecting these facts, demanding justice and non-repetition.
– The authorities must acknowledge their responsibility and issue a public apology to the victims’ families for the human rights violations at the Llanos Prison (CEPELLA).