Buenos Aires Times

argentina HUMAN RIGHTS

BA Supreme Court warns Vidal over continued use of police stations as prisons

As Argentina's prison population continues growing, rights groups in the country warn of inadequate conditions prisoners face in police station holding cells.

Tuesday 5 March, 2019
Governor María Eugenia Vidal and provincial Justice Minister Gustavo Ferrari.
Governor María Eugenia Vidal and provincial Justice Minister Gustavo Ferrari. Foto:Presidencia

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The Buenos Aires Provincial Supreme Court on Tuesday warned the Vidal government that the province cannot continue to use police stations as prisons. 

There are reportedly 15 prisons in the province that keep detainees locked up beyond the legal timeframes of detention, according to the CPM (Comisión Provincial por la Memoria).

The Court's strongly worded ruling comes after the provincial Security Ministry and Governor's Office "failed", it said, to respond to demands to remove prisoners from a police station in Lomas de Zamora.

It also took aim at the "ambiguity" with which the provincial administration has reportedly responded to concerns from the Judiciary about the matter.

As Argentina's prison population continues growing, rights groups in the country warn of inadequate conditions prisoners face in police station holding cells.

The María Eugenía Vidal government "has not adopted conducive or effective measures" to end the practice "despite reiterated demands expressed over the detention of prisoners in police stations which lack basic living conditions", the Court's ruling determined, according to reports from the Diarios Buenos Aires (DIB) news agency.

The province's highest tribunal then called on the provincial administration to "adopt, as soon as possible, pertinent and effective measures within its competency for the rapid resolution of this situation".

According to Justice Eduardo Lázzari's observations, the response from the Vidal government to the Judiciary's demands "has been null", according to DIB.

"The response of the (Buenos Aires provincial) Security Ministry consisted of a series of references to the registry it has of the bureaucratic steps its requests for information have taken", the Judge said, referring to apparent attempts by the Security Ministry at distracting the Judiciary or delaying a response to the matter at hand.

When it came to Vidal's office, the "timeframe (for action) has long expired" and the response "showed similar ambiguity" to the Security Ministry and also failed to respond "to absolutely anything" related to the Court's request.

OAS DEMANDS

On Tuesday, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (OAS) demanded the Buenos Aires provincial government adopt "urgent measures" to address the practice and warned prisoners "life and physical integrity was at risk".

The 15 police stations who reportedly keep prisoners are Esteban Echeverría (stations 2 and 3), San Martín (station 1), Almirante Brown (stations 7 and 8), José C. Paz (stations 1 and 3), Billinghurst (station 5), Quilmes (Investigations Department and station 3), Berazategui (station 1), Lanús (station 6), Moreno (station 2) y Moreno-General Rodríguez (stations 1 and 8).

-TIMES

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