November 23, 2014
Prisoners in BA province to be held in stations
New measure becomes official amid complaints from human rights groups
Prisoners in Buenos Aires province can now be held in police stations cells as part of the emergency security measures announced last April by the Daniel Scioli administration, according to a resolution signed by provincial Security Minister Alejandro Granados that was published yesterday in the provincial Official Gazette.
Scioli officials present the move as a solution to the large number of people arrested after the government declared “the state of security emergency” in the district.
Now some 200 police station prison cells across the province that were closed in 2011 and 2012 following judicial orders may be reopened to hold prisoners.
Resolution number 642 makes it clear that all police buildings that are not in appropriate condition “should be made safe” for holding temporary prisoners “in order to provide detainees proper protection.”
The regulation also says that all police cells shut down following court orders should remain unused.
“The disabling of several police cells has negatively affected the living conditions of prisoners currently being held in authorized places,” Granados explained as the basis of the measure. “For reasons of speed and finance, it would be appropriate to use all of the existing vacancies in police buildings.”
The decision was met with disappointment by opposition leaders and human rights groups.
“Scioli officially decided to re-open police cells — but we believe social inclusion is the way to go,” the head of the provincial Ombudsman Office Walter Martello wrote on his Twitter account.
The Provincial Commission for Memory (CPM) human rights organization also criticized the measure for “violating the rights” of detainees.
“It’s an unfortunate and regressive measure,” Rodrigo Pomares, CPM’s Democratic Security director said.
The human rights organization stressed the fact that the province was forced to close almost 200 precarious facilities following a 2005 ruling in which the Supreme Court ordered the emptying of the district’s police station cells.
“Of the 4,600 prisoners housed in police stations in 2009, we ended up with some 700 in 2013,” Pomares said. “We managed to bring down the number of prisoners held in inappropriate facilities — despite the collapse in the penal system, it was a progressive trend.”
According to international treaties, any security policy must include the progressive withdrawal of prisoners held in police cells because “police dungeons” are not fit for inmates.
Other human rights organizations, such as the Centre for Legal and Social Studies (CELS), reiterated their position against the resolution and its broader opposition to the security policies of the Scioli administration.