José Gregorio Mota Abarullo y Otros, Venezuela

A selection of key paragraphs can be found below the report.


62. In order to fulfill its duty of prevention with respect to possible violations of the rights to life and to personal integrity, the State “must design and enforce prison policies intended to prevent crisis situations.” 142 Among others, the Inter-American Court has considered that “the State [has] the duty to create the conditions to avoid, to the maximum extent possible, fighting among inmates”

64. On the other hand, the Inter-American Court has incorporated into its jurisprudence a series of standards for prison conditions and the duty of prevention, to be taken into account when analyzing international obligations under the American Convention regarding persons deprived of their liberty. The following are particularly relevant to this case: a. overcrowding is, in itself, a violation of personal integrity; in addition, it hinders the normal execution of essential functions in prisons; b. those who are being processed must be separated from those who have been convicted; and children must be held separately from adults, so that those deprived of liberty receive treatment appropriate to their situation; […] f. education, work and recreation are essential functions of a prison, and must be provided to all those deprived of liberty in order to promote the rehabilitation and social adjustment of inmates; […] h. all cells must have sufficient natural or artificial light, ventilation and adequate conditions of hygiene; […] k. Disciplinary measures that constitute cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, including corporal punishment, prolonged solitary confinement, and any other measure that may seriously jeopardize the physical or mental health of the inmate is strictly prohibited.

67. First, a series of elements reveal the lack of a prison policy for the prevention of emergencies in INAM-San Félix, reflected in the living conditions within the Center at the time of the events. In the previous chapter, the Commission determined that for years, INAM-San Félix suffered from overcrowding, with a lack of sufficient personnel to provide minimum security conditions, both as regards effective control to prevent the entry of contraband into the Center, as well as the lack of adequate personnel to control a population that varied between 50 and 105 inmates. (…)

69. It was also indicated that the State did not adequately respond to the fact that the Center lacked adequate facilities to separate the inmates from convicted prisoners, in violation of Article 5.4 of the American Convention and a potential source of violence and tension at the Center.

78. Furthermore, considering the fact that the majority of the structural problems allowing the death of the victims while under 18 years of age constituted continuous and repeated omissions, the Commission also considers that the State “did not effectively fulfill its role as guarantor of the rights of the child, in this special relationship of subordination between the State and the adult/child deprived of liberty. The State failed to take the necessary positive measures to ensure to all inmates decent living conditions. (…)


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