Yesterday, the Office of the Attorney General of the Nation asked the director of the Penitentiary and Prison Services Unit (USPEC) for a solution to the disagreements raised by the directors of the 125 Penitentiary and Prison centers in Colombia; due to failures in the food service for people deprived of their liberty in detention centers.
According to the highest body of the Public Ministry “the discontent of the directors of establishments with regard to food service is worrying, since they feel that there is no effective coordination between the Uspec and the Inpec.”
In response to this, the Risaralda Ombudsman’s Office has been monitoring the criminal policy of persons deprived of Liberty (PPL), in the different establishments of the department; In some of these, certain irregularities in the food supply were discovered, which are supplied by a private operator.
Precisely, in the Police Command of the municipality of Santa Rosa Cabal and in the Police Command of the municipality of Dosquebradas, it was possible to show that some foods such as fruits were in a certain state of decomposition; which powerfully caught the attention of the Ombudsman’s Office, since this can cause health problems for people who are deprived of liberty.
Likewise, in the Life Protection Unit (UPPV), some people deprived of their liberty expressed that currently the rations arrive diminished; In addition, during the inspection alterations were found in some foods. Contrary to the above, in La 40 prison, no irregularities were found.
For their part, from the Pereira Government Secretary, they expressed that the power of the UPPV depends directly on the Penitentiary and Prison Services Unit; they are the ones who determine with whom the contract is made for the feeding of those deprived of liberty, in the Permanent Unit for the Protection of Life; Despite this, the UPPV has obtained scales to weigh the food; so that they are given a good ration; but so far there is no solution.
Regarding the irregularities found by the Ombudsman’s Office, in some detention centers in the department of Risaralda, Fustel Antonio Manyoma Gil, Regional Ombudsman, stated “according to our interventions and our visit, what does it have to do with the criminal policy to those deprived of liberty, we pass this report directly to the central level of the Ombudsman’s Office, so that the competent authorities can be called there.”
In addition, recommendations were given in a meeting held with the Secretary of Government of the municipality of Santa Rosa de Cabal; Similarly, the request was made to the Secretary of Government in the municipality of Dosquebradas, so that they, in turn, make recommendations to the operator.
On the other hand, the previous Saturday an intervention was carried out on the PPL in Santa Rosa de Cabal, where they took items to sleep; because the mattresses they had were causing them diseases due to the number of animals that were found on them. In addition, they received medical attention from the ESE Salud of the municipality of Santa Rosa and they received some food rations from the municipal administration, a fact that was evidenced by the Ombudsman’s Office.
At the end of August 2022, the Pereira Ombudsman revealed the shortage of food in the warehouses where food is stored for the prisoners of the La 40 prison and the Permanent Life Protection Unit, this due to non-compliance with the payments from the Penitentiary and Prison Services Unit, USPEC, to the contractor.
In relation to this, the director of the Pereira medium-security penitentiary and prison, Alexander Zapata Largo, stated that since December 23 of the previous year, the new food supplier for the population deprived of liberty in La 40, is the temporary union Quality and Life; which came to replace the temporary Union NUTRIUSPEC.
“We had some problems with the previous food supplier Unión temporal NUTRIUSPEC; especially with the supplies, with the provisions that did not have the proper storage to provide food for several days and, at some point we were almost on a daily basis; although, I must clarify that food has never been lacking.
As of today, we already have enough supplies from this Temporary Union and we are normalizing our food times and the menu that is required by USPEC,” said the director of the La 40 prison.
Similarly, Pedro Vargas Barragán, president of the Union of Penitentiary Workers of the La 40 Prison (UTP) Sectional Pereira indicated “we have suffered due to the issue of food, for this reason as a Union Organization, we raise a voice of alert before the different institutions corresponding to the investigation of what was happening. As a result of this, today the Attorney General’s Office is calling on USPEC to investigate at the national level, because the complaints were repetitive, almost in all Colombian prisons.”
“In our case, at the La 40 de Pereira establishment, to this day I can give a piece of peace of mind because there is a new administration, a person who is very suitable for the position. He has made some very important changes, he has been very aware of food, which is the most important thing, ”he added.
Currently, the penitentiary system in Pereira has 1,678 people deprived of liberty; Of these, 920 are in the La 40 prison, to whom the temporary union supplies food; likewise, Calidad y Vida supplies food to 472 prisoners, of whom 330 are in the UPPV, 40 in the SIJIN, 10 in the El Remanso Police Station, 60 in the Dosquebradas Police Station, 4 at the Cuban police station, 18 at the Pereira police station and 10 at the La Virginia Police station.
Therefore, novelties can be presented in the other detention centers; because the food is produced in the semi-external part of the La 40 prison, from there it is transferred to the different stations; and sometimes when it reaches the final destination, they arrive scrambled or do not arrive in the weights that are considered to be or in another state, said Zapata Largo.
At the moment, the concern in the Pereira medium-security penitentiary and prison establishment is regarding the issue of Health, since the establishment does not carry out operations, it does not attend emergencies; If not, that is what the medical centers do; So, between one and the other, appointments with specialists, appointments for exams or operations that some prisoners have pending have been delayed.
“In this regard, we entered to request the trust in charge of the care of the fund for the deprived of liberty for the health issue, to expedite the appointments,” he pointed out.