The UN Committee against Torture (CAT) is watching the increase in prison inmates in Bolivia with concern.
He also requested that the isolation regime, which was considered a sanction, be changed, as stated in his session report from 1867 to 1869, presented on December 2 in Geneva.
The committee fears that detainees will be punished with an isolation period of 20 days and up to 30 days without a visit.
For this reason, it recommended that this regulation be changed and “only in exceptional cases as a last resort, for the shortest possible time (maximum 15 days) and subject to an independent review and only with the approval of the competent authority”. as provided in the Nelson Mandela Rules.
She also recommends that the Bolivian judiciary “step up measures to prevent violence in prisons and fight corruption in prisons”.
The Committee against Torture lamented the excessive use of pre-trial detention, reflected in the increase in the number of inmates from 10,150 in 2017 to 18,630 in 2021.
In addition, 64.10 percent of those incarcerated in Bolivian prisons are not sentenced, but are preventive.
He also noted the cut in the prison budget and questioned the little information available on the situation of prisons during the Covid-19 pandemic. As well as data on populations at risk: indigenous peoples, sexual diversity and the elderly.
Regarding the management of the prisons, he said there was a need to keep a better record of the prisoners and ensure they had access to a free lawyer.
For this reason, it recommended that the State party strengthen the public defense system in order to change the reality of prisons in the country.
POSITIVE ASPECTS IN THE REPORT
The Committee against Torture recognized Bolivia’s efforts to reduce overcrowding in prisons.
Among the positive aspects, he highlighted the decongestion sessions, the virtual hearings and the expansion of the capacities of the Cochabamba, Tarija and Beni prisons. He also considered amnesty and pardons due to the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.
The committee recommended that all deaths in detention be investigated immediately and that the instructions, methods and procedures for questioning by the prosecutor and other authorities be improved.
The committee asked to work on urgent judicial reform.