SANTIAGO – The Chilean state routinely “violates human rights” inside the country’s prisons by failing to take actions to remedy the “inhumane” conditions of inmates, Amnesty International spokesman in Chile, Roberto Morales, told EFE in an interview.
The issue reached international attention after a video showing Chilean inmates brutally attacking two Ecuadoran prisoners who were convicted of killing and robbing a woman in Santiago went viral on social media.
The video shows the assailants punching, kicking and even electrocuting the two men after shaving their heads, before a guard stepped in to break up the beating.
Morales said that aggressions of this kind happen “routinely” due to a “structural problem” that has been deeply entrenched in Chile’s prison system for years, which hinders the state’s ability to ensure the safety of inmates.
“(The state) is constantly violating human rights because it does not guarantee the minimum conditions, not only in terms of physical integrity, but in other aspects as well,” Morales said, adding that conditions inside the country’s jails are “inhumane.”
Overcrowding, lack of access to water, abuse and even torture are some of the irregularities accounted for in a report by Chile’s National Human Rights Institute (INDH), which provides a detailed description of 43 prisons studied between 2014-2015.
Despite this, Morales praised Chilean Justice Minister Hernan Larrain and President Sebastian Piñera for saying that, while the crime committed by the Ecuadorian nationals was heinous, violent reactions of this kind are never justified.
On June 21, a prison guard was accused of deliberately failing to avoid the torture, which caused the prison workers union to threaten to strike.
However, the union struck a deal with the government to improve the general situation of Chile’s prison system.