LA PAZ – Bolivian authorities are investigating a Peruvian inmate’s complaint that she was handcuffed to the bed of her cell for 45 days at the women’s prison in this capital.
The head of the prison service in La Paz province, Elaquias Valeriano, told Efe that he learned of the abuse complaint from a story in the Pagina Siete daily and subsequently ordered an investigation.
Once evidence has been gathered, legal action will be taken against anyone found to be responsible, Valeriano said.
Peruvian national Mildreda Espinoza was held in solitary confinement and handcuffed to her bed beginning on June 6, after she was accused of trying to flee the women’s prison in La Paz, Pagina Siete said.
In a letter to prosecutors, Espinoza said that in addition to having been kicked in her stomach and other parts of her body she had been doused with cold water and had her money and boots taken away from her.
Bolivia’s National Ombud Office, an advisor from the Peruvian Consulate in La Paz and a prison psychologist confirmed that Espinoza had been handcuffed, while the Permanent Assembly of Human Rights, a non-governmental organization, said she had been held long enough in that situation for it to be considered an act of torture.
Ombud Rolando Villena told the daily that the prison’s head of security, whose name was not provided, said Espinoza was handcuffed on the orders of the psychologist because she was in a “state of deep depression” and was thought to be potentially suicidal.
The inmate had been handcuffed to her bed for 45 days through Tuesday, according to Pagina Siete, although the guards apparently took the cuffs off of her for a few hours at a time.
An international delegation is due to travel to Bolivia shortly to evaluate the situation at prisons affected by overcrowding and police abuse, a visit that comes weeks after a detainee died during an interrogation. EFE