Press Release

IACHR Deplores Violent Deaths in Costa Rican Prison

January 6, 2012

Washington, D.C., January 6, 2012 – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expresses its concern over the violent death of two inmates at the Institutional Center of Attention (“CAI”) La Reforma, in Alajuela, Costa Rica. The IACHR urges the State of Costa Rica to implement the necessary measures to prevent the repetition of similar incidents, and to investigate and punish the perpetrators.

According to the information the Commission has received, on January 2nd, 2012, two prisoners at the CAI La Reforma were killed with sharp weapons by inmates, who are members of a rival gang, during a riot in which other six prisoners were injured.

The IACHR observes that in May, 2011, there was another riot and an attempt to escape in the CAI La Reforma in which two inmates and one security agent died. One of the leaders of the attempt to escape was found dead in his cell a few days afterwards.

The IACHR reiterates that States, as guarantors of the rights of the persons deprived of liberty, must adopt all necessary measures to protect the life and personal integrity of the inmates. States have the obligation to investigate, on its own initiative and with due diligence, all deaths of persons under its custody. These investigations must not only aim to establish the material perpetrators of the crimes, but also the possible intellectual authors, and any degree of responsibility that the authorities might have, either by action or omission.

Likewise, the States especially have the fundamental obligation to ensure the control and internal security of prisons, and must in no way abandon this inherent duty. Proper control by the authorities of internal order inside prisons is an essential assumption in order to guarantee the human rights of persons deprived of liberty.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this matter. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in a personal capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 2/12