Prisoners incarcerated in the “Palo Gordo” prison of Girón Santander, have announced that more than 754 prisoners—including social and political prisoners—have initiated an indefinite hunger strike; meanwhile, other prisoners in the institution will continue to perform non-violent acts of civil disobedience such as refusing to wear uniforms or rejecting routine counts by prison guards. These measures are being taken to demand guarantees for the respect of the fundamental human rights of inmates. Political Prisoners ensure that they will maintain the hunger strike and non-violent acts of civil disobedience until the Colombian government, represented by the Minister of Justice, and the governing body of the National Penitentiary Institute (INPEC) form a negotiating delegation that proposes real solutions for the violation of the rights of inmates.
Public Communiqué : The incarcerated population of the maximum and medium security prison of Girón Santander informs the national and international public, social organizations, human rights organizations, bodies of state control, and family members and friends that as of 12 :00 am today, June 5, 2012, we declare ourselves to be in a state of indefinite hunger strike and non-violent civil disobedience for the dire situation we face, with respect to health services, overcrowding, and living conditions in this prison.
The Colombian prison system is characterized by inadequate health services, with CAPRECOM EPS serving as the healthcare provider for inmates nationwide. In the case of Palo Gordo, CAPRECOM has ceased providing services for two months. Inmates do not have access to dental services or a regular physician and the pharmacy is insufficiently stocked to respond to an incident or emergency illness. This situation is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of inmates across the country.
In this penitentiary alone, 3 inmates suffer from cancer, 9 inmates are HIV-positive, and more than 200 inmates require psychiatric treatment.
The problem of overcrowding has now risen to over 10% and the distribution system for basic necessities has been dysfunctional for over two years. For all of these reasons, we will maintain this hunger strike and our acts of non-violent civil disobedience until the national government, represented by the Minister of Justice, and the governing body of the INPEC form a high-level negotiating delegation that can offer a timely solution to these problems.
We invite all social and popular organizations, organizations in the defence of human rights, and bodies of state control to accompany us with their denunciations in defence of our right to health and our right to life.
“The prisoners of Colombia have lost our liberty, but not our dignity, nor our rights.”
Prison Palo Gordo -- Girón Santander – June 5, 2012
June 8, 2012, 2:00 pm.
The Human Rights Committee of the 10 pavilions in the penitentiary of Palo Gordo would like to announce that as of 2:00 pm on June 8, 2012, prisoners on hunger strike and prisoners participating in non-violent acts of civil disobedience have collectively decided to put an end to these actions for the following reasons.
Through a meeting with the Secretary of the Interior of the department of Santander, the Director of the prison Modelo of Bucaramanga, the regional director of prisons, the Director of the women’s prison of Chimita and the Vice-minister of Justice, among others, they informed us that health services provider CAPRECOM’s contract has been revoked and the company will terminate its work on July 20, 2012.
As of this date, it has been agreed upon that the Prisoners’ Human Rights committee will actively participate in choosing a new health services provider for State prisons.
It is our hope that the authorities will carry through with these commitments and improve the grave and inhumane situation that all Colombian prisoners suffer by addressing the quality of health services inside prisons.
We demand dignified treatment in Colombian prisons!
Human Rights committee
Palo Gordo Penitentiary-Girón, Santander
June 8, 2012