November 23, 2014
Rights group takes on BA’s police station cells
The Provincial Commission for Memory (CPM) human rights organization yesterday criticized the recent decision by Governor Daniel Scioli’s administration and Security Minister Alejandro Granados to hold prisoners police stations cells as part of the emergency security measures announced last April and said the move “violated the rights” of the detained.
“It’s an unfortunate and regressive measure. (The Scioli administration) is re-opening the same cells that were ordered closed,” Rodrigo Pomares, the Democratic Security director of the CPM, said.
Resolution number 642, signed by Granados, was presented as an alleged solution by Scioli’s government to the large number of people arrested after declaring “the state of security emergency” in the country’s most populous province.
The CPM representative recalled a number of resolutions signed by former security minister Carlos Casal in 2011 and 2012 following reports of poor conditions in cells in police stations in Buenos Aires province and said the new move — sponsored by Granados — contradicted earlier decisions by the Scioli administration.
It is worth noting that those decisions were not taken autonomously by the provincial government but rather following judicial orders to close some 200 police-station prison cells across the province.
“Of the 4,600 prisoners housed in police stations in 2009, we ended up with some 700 in 2013,” Pomares told news portal Infocielo. “We managed to bring down the number of prisoners held in unprepared facilities — despite the collapse in the penal system, it was a progressive trend.”
The decision is also at odds with the so-called “Verbitsky case,” a 2005 ruling in which the Supreme Court ordered the Buenos Aires province empty its police station cells.
In line with international treaties, Pomares stressed that any security policy must include the progressive withdrawal of prisoners held in police cells because “police dungeons are not fit” for inmates to live in.
He added that “police officers should not be in charge of the custody” of prison cells.
“Police officers are not prepared for this task ... they’re supposed to prevent crime,” he insisted.
Days earlier, Nuevo Encuentro provincial lawmaker Mónica Macha — the head of the Human Rights Committee of the BA province legislature — said that having inmates held in police cells once again “was a clear setback” in human-rights progress.
— Herald staff