Inhumane Treatment of Colombian Political Prisoners

The Alliance for Global Justice has, for some time, been following the situation at the maximum security prison in Valledupar, Department of Cesar, Colombia. The conditions there are deplorable. For instance, inmates are allowed access to water only 10 minutes a day, being forced to collect water in buckets coming out of pipes at a trickle. The water they collect must suffice for all of their daily needs, including drinking, bathing and clothes washing. Toilet facilities are filthy and often unusable. Political prisoners are concentrated with paramilitary prisoners, who are often supplied with weapons by the guards. Political prisoners are repeatedly subjected to torture and beatings. One would think that this prison was an old structure, judging by the medieval conditions. But, in fact, it was built with US Bureau of Prisons funding and oversight: just one more example of how the US government sponsors war and repression in Colombia.

AT RISK ARE THE LIVES OF 40 POLITICAL PRISONERS IN TOWER 4 DE VALLEDUPAR’S “LA TRAMACUA” PENITENTIARY IN COLOMBIA – Urgent action for the national and international community included below

The Beyond the Walls Campaign denounces to the national and international community that INPEC (Colombia’s Bureau of Prisons) threatens the FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT TO LIFE AND MAKES VULNERABLE THE RIGHT TO HEALTH OF THE POLITICAL PRISONERS in Tower 4 of the high-security prison in Valledupar (Colombia).

Today we received more information about the serious health conditions suffered over the last three months by 40 political prisoners in Tower 4 in Valledupar. The alarming symptoms are loss of hair and nails as well as bleeding from the mouth and in their bowel movements. They have repeatedly requested medical attention as well as medicines to help decrease their ailments. These requests have been denied by the INPEC. These negligent acts by INPEC have enabled the spread of the symptoms, which are caused by unsanitary detention conditions.

In 2001, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the United Nations visited several prisons in Colombia and stated in a report * “it was proven that there was fecal contamination of food, as it happened in the prison in Valledupar”. This situation was even corroborated in 2008 by the Health Secretary of the Department of Cesar after making a microbiological analysis of foods prepared in Valledupar penitentiary.

On November 11, 2008, Valledupar Circuit Judge gave a ruling through which it was decided to protect the right to health, life and human dignity of the inmates at the penitentiary in Valledupar. To date, this mandate remains unimplemented by the INPEC as there are constant complaints of prisoners referring to medical malpractice, constant cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment being suffered, water restriction, and the poor state of the facilities.

On July 12, 2010, the National People’s Defender said in a Valledupar local media outlet that “In the two prisons in Valledupar there are many human rights violations, one of them is the physical abuse suffered by the inmates of the establishment. We have a water problem where there is not enough to address the needs of the imprisoned community, there are problems with health issues. ”

Below is the latest alert we have received regarding prison conditions. As you will be able to see, the situation is truly urgent. Please take a moment to email or call the authorities listed below.

1. That the State guarantee the rights to LIFE, PERSONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH of the POLITICAL PRISONERS in Tower 4 in the Valledupar Penitentiary and that INPEC accordingly provide the appropriate care that addresses the immediate health needs of the prisoners and carries out specific tests to discover the origin of the possible poisoning afflicting them.

2. That the National People’s Defender’s Office, the nation’s Attorney General’s Office, the Presidential Program for Human Rights, the Senate’s Humanitarian Rights Commission and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Colombia make a VERIFICATION VISIT OF THE HEALTH CONDITIONS suffered by prisoners of Tower 4 in Valledupar Penitentiary, that the necessary investigations begin to take place and that those responsible for the human rights violations against political prisoners of Tower 4 be punished.

3. That the state guarantee minimum living standards and comply with international treatment for people living in seclusion therefore, close the high-security prison of VALLEDUPAR for failing to meet minimum standards of respect for human rights.

We call on the National and International Community to send their statements supporting this URGENT ACTION by sending their communications to the following authorities. If you decide to make a phone call, dial 011 + 57 + the number provided.

Ministry of Interior and Justice
Fabio Valencia Cossio
Protection Program
Ministry of Interior and Justice
Carrera 8 ª No. 13-31 Piso 4 Bogotá
Phones: 1-3368366, 1-5662477

Director Presidential Program for Human Rights and IHL
Carlos Franco

Advisor: Fernando Ibarra
Tel: +57.1.5659797 or 5662064 571

Attorney General’s Office
Ordonez Alejandro Maldonado
Carrera 5 #. 15-80, Bogotá
Fax: +57.1.342.97.23; +571.284.79.49. Fax: +57.1.342.97.23;
Email:, and

National Ombudsman
Volmer Antonio Perez Ortiz
Calle 55 # 10-32, Bogotá
Fax: + 57.1.640.04.91

National Director INPEC
Carlos Alberto Galindo Barragan
Calle 26 No. 27-48, Bogotá
PBX (57) 2347474 / 2347262

Human Rights Coordinating Group INPEC
Lagos Ivonne Diaz
Calle 26 No. 27-48, Bogotá
PBX (57) 2347474 / 2347262 EXT.: 190
Email: @ ivonne.lagos

Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons Deprived of Liberty

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Colombia
Tel: (571) 658 3300 (571) 658 3300 – Bogotá, Colombia