doc. 25
30 June 1981
Original:  Spanish







A.          General Considerations


          1.          As stated earlier, when the Sandinista forces, with the support of a popular insurrection, were able to overthrow the Somoza Regime, half of the then National Guard had fled the country.  These troops, many of them officers or combatants, went to neighboring countries or to the United States.


          Those who surrendered ended up in the so-called Free Zone where they turned themselves over to the Red Cross in the hope that it would be able to protect them from popular reprisals.


          However, shortly afterwards, the military forces of the new government surrounded the Free Zone and took its occupants captive.  At the same time, the government forces were able to a large extent to calm the passions of the masses that were demanding vengeance against those they held responsible for serious violations of human rights.


          2.          From the first day of the Revolution, the Government of National Reconstruction had to take responsibility for thousands of prisoners, former members of the defeated army or people closely linked to the earlier regime.  In addition to protecting them, it also had the responsibility of housing and feeding them.


          This was all made more difficult because of the shortage of human and material resources caused by the civil war.


          Of necessity, the Government had to use the former regime’s detention institutions, which in the best of times had been rudimentary, and which had deteriorated notably in the years prior to the fall of Somoza.


          3.          Although, as will be explained below, the Commission found prison conditions to be deplorable, at the same time it recognizes that such conditions were due in large part to the special post war circumstances.  The Commission also found that there was no deliberate intention on the part of the highest authorities to subject prisoners to cruel and inhuman treatment, although this did in fact happen as a result of the very conditions of the detention centers.


          4.          The intention of the Government of National Reconstruction is set forth in a number of clauses of the Statute of the Rights and Guarantees of Nicaraguans, which are intended to guarantee the right to humane treatment.  The following provisions, inter alia, are worthy of note:


Article 6: Every person has the right to have his physical, mental and moral integrity respected.  Punishment shall not be extended to any person other than the criminal.  No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment or treatment.  No sentence or sentences are amounting individually or collectively to more than 30 years shall be imposed.


Article 9: Accused persons shall be segregated from convicted persons, and women shall be segregated from men, and given treatment appropriate to their particular status.  Minors may be brought only before Juvenile Courts, and in no case shall be taken to common jails.  Rehabilitation centers shall be established for them under the direction of the Ministry of Social Welfare.


Article 10: the essential aim of the penitentiary system shall be the reform and social re-adaptation of the prisoner, and shall seek to incorporate him into the production process.


          5.       The Commission will refer in the present chapter to its inspection of the detention centers during its on—site observation; to the principal problems that it feels these centers have; to the treatment given to prisoners, and to the particular situation of minors and old people.


B.          Inspection of prisons and detention centers


          1.          During its on-site observation, the IACHR visited ten prisons in different parts of Nicaragua.  The detention centers inspected by the Commission were:


a)                 Jorge Navarro (La Modelo), in Tipitapa, near Masaya;

b)                 Héroes y Mártires de Nueva Guinea (Free Zone), in Managua;

c)                 El Chipote, in Managua;

d)                 Orlando Betancourt, in Chinandega;

e)                 Benjamín Zeledón (Coyotepe), near Masaya;

f)                  Juan José Quezada, in Jinotepe;

g)                 José Luis Enríquez (La Pólvora), in Granada;

h)                 Ruth Rodríguez (Women’s Prison), in Granada;

i)                   La Quinta Rodríguez (Women’s Prison), in Granada;

j)                   The Francisco Meza Juvenile Rehabilitation Center.  [2]/


2.          At all these detention and confinement centers, the IACHR was received by the prison authorities, which were most cooperative.  After their interviews with the authorities, the members of the Commission went through the detention centers, and as is the Commission’s practice, talked with a number of prisoners in each jail.  On a number of occasions, the Commission indicated its desire to meet with one or another prisoner (always in private) whose case was under investigation.  At other times, the members selected prisoners at random to talk with them.  These visits and interviews are summarized below.


a)          Jorge Navarro (La Modelo) Prison


3.          The Commission visited the former “Modelo” prison, now called “Jorge Navarro”, on Thursday, October 7, 1980.  It has a prisoner population of approximately 2450, although it was originally built to house a maximum of 1800 prisoners.  The Warden, Mr. Juan Carlos Molina López, heads a team of 230 prison guards, one doctor, one dentist, two nurses, four paramedics and one laboratory assistant.


          4.          The cells of the Jorge Navarro prison are in seven large blocks surrounding the main building, three on each side, and one at the end.  Inside the blocks, the cells are on two floors.  Each block has a bathroom and a small infirmary for which one of the prisoners is made responsible.  The prisoners are kept in their cells almost 24 hours a day, and each cell has 5 to 8 prisoners.  They all sloop on the floor, jammed up against each other on small mattresses.  Almost all the detainees are former members of the National Guard.  The Warden said that there was an isolation cell, but that it had not been used.  That contradicts what a number of prisoners said during the interviews, referring to “La Chiquita” (‘the little room’) as a place of punishment.


          The overcrowding, food, hygiene and medical care in this prison are unacceptable.


b)       Héroes y Mártires de Nueva Guinea Confinement Center (“Free zone”)

          5.          This confinement center, located a few minutes from the airport and the Camino Real Hotel in Managua, has the largest prisoner population after the Tipitapa Model prison.  As in other detention centers, most of the prisoners are former members of the National Guard.  This prison is also known as the “Free Zone”, because it was installed in old customhouses, which were transformed into penitentiary facilities during the first days after the victory of the revolution.


          The Commission visited this detention center during the afternoon of October 7, and after taking to the prison authorities, took an extensive tour through the facilities and had the opportunity to talk in private with a number of prisoners.


          The center consists of three large blocks.  At the time of the Commission’s visit, detainees who had not yet been brought to trial occupied two blocks; the other block housed the other prisoners who had already been sentenced by the Special Tribunal.


          In general, each block has some 20 cells, each of which contains approximately 40 prisoners.  At the time the Commission visited the Free Zone, therefore, there were some 2, 400 people in detention.


          Each of the cells measures approximately 40 meter square which means that there is unacceptable overcrowding; it is made worse by the fact that some detainees do not even have mattresses and must sleep on the floor.


Most of the detainees are former Guards, persons who held important positions in the previous government or leaders of the Liberal Party.  The latter included two physicians and a dentist, who are providing professional care and thus helping to improve the difficult health conditions.


The Commission noted in this connection that some of the prisoners were suffering from infectious diseases, which required them to be segregated from the other prisoners.  The Commission saw a number of juveniles approximately 15 years old, who were being held in some of the cells.  It has recommended that they be transferred to rehabilitation centers.


A special cell, where the detention conditions were relatively better, held a number of persons detained for reasons of security of the state.  These included the journalist Guillermo Treminio, and some members of the Sandinista Front, who had been accused of abuses of authority.


The Commission found that the overcrowding, food, lack of cleanliness and medical care in this detention center were insufferable.


c)          El Chipote        


6.          This old detention center is part of a fairly large military installation.  It is located near the famous Bunker where Somoza’s high command stayed during the last days of the civil war.  The Commission visited it on October 7, accompanied by the Minister of the Interior, Commander Tomás Borge.


          It has both collective and individual cells, on two levels, since the center was built next to a hill.


          On the lower level, the Commission met with a number of prisoners who had been recently arrested at Bluefields, the scene of some anti-government demonstration that coincided with the Commission’s visit.


          The prisoners were lodged in two large dormitories.  They themselves were responsible for cleaning it, and while some of them had beds, most of them sleep on the floor on portable mattresses.


          In addition to the Bluefields detainees, El Chipote had at that time a prison population of 68.


          On the upper level, the Commission visited a number of cells that held only one or two prisoners.  These measured approximately 3 meters square all had beds and a small washbasin that also served as a urinal.  El Chipote also had a punishment cell called “La Chiquita” (‘the little room’), and although it was supposed to be for individual use, it has at times held up to nine prisoners.  “La Chiquita” has neither bathroom facilities nor natural light, and the electric light is kept on twenty-four hours a day.


          The Minister of the Interior, who said that he himself had been imprisoned in the same cell at an earlier period, told the Commission that the worst cells in El Chipote had not been used on his express orders.  However, he acknowledged that the prison conditions at the time were worse than when he was a prisoner, because of a lack of adequate resources.


          Almost all the prisoners in El Chipote were awaiting trial, and were accused of counter-revolutionary acts.  The prisoners included Bernardino Larios, the first Minister of Defense of the present government, with whom the Commission had the opportunity to speak in private.


          d)          Orlando Betancourt Confinement Center


          7.          This new prison was still under construction when the IACHR visited.  During the first year, former members of the National Guard from the Chinandega area were held in a very primitive provisional prison called the Hotel Consigüina, inside the city of Chinandega.


          The new facility is clearly much better than the previous one.  A single story brick building, it is divided up into a number of common cells with camp beds and new mattresses.  Since only half the cells had been completed, the prisoners were living temporarily in unacceptably crowded conditions, with not less than 24 prisoners to a cell.


          However, given the rapidity with which the transfer was made from the Hotel Consigüina to the new detention center, the situation improved somewhat in the days following the Commission’s visit.


          The Orlando Betancourt prison had 561 prisoners, all men, at the time of the Commission’s visit.  Once it is fully functioning, it will give its design, represent a significant improvement: it has natural light and spacious courtyards where the prisoners can spend time in the sun and in recreation.  The sanitary and medical care conditions are satisfactory.


          e)          The Benjamín Zeledón Prison


          8.          This detention center, also known as El Coyote, is an old Spanish fort located one kilometer from the city of Masaya.  Almost all its cells are underground, without light or proper ventilation.  The climate in this area is very tropical, and when the Commission visited, the prison was being remodeled.


          It served as a detention center until approximately one year after the victory of the revolution.  On talking with the prison authorities, the Commission was informed that the intention of the government of National Reconstruction was to restore and improve the prison.  And although there was general acknowledgement that it was not a suitable place for a prison, the intention was to make it into a working penal center.


          However, the Commission informally suggested that the El Coyote prison never again be used as a detention center, because of its horrendous design, which could not be changed.


          The Government of Nicaragua recently informed the Commission that it has again examined the problem, and had decided to close the Benjamín Zeledón unit forever.  Prior to its closure, it held 140 prisoners.


          f)          The Juan José Quezada Prison


          9.          The prison is located in the center of the city of Jinotepe, and is intended to be almost 99% for former members of the National Guard.  At present, this penitentiary center is called the “Juan José Quezada Unit”, and it holds only male prisoners.


          On the day the Commission visited, the City Hall register recorded 251 prisoners, only four of whom had been brought before the Special Tribunals.  All the rest were detained without having been brought to trial.  Mr. Angel Cabrera Sequeira is the prison Warden.  The building, which is on a corner, has approximately eight cells, six of which hold the former National Guardsmen.


          The cells are of different sizes, but none is sufficiently large to provide proper accommodation for the people there.  Because of the overcrowding and the limited space, the prisoners sleep on platforms overcrowding and the limited space, the prisoners sleep on platforms attached to the walls, giving the impression of library bookshelves.  The beds are placed on the shelves, and the prisoners sleep all the way from the floor almost to the ceiling, one on top of the other, in some cases on four different levels.  While the prisoners are in their beds, there is enough floor space for someone to be able to walk a few steps within the cell.  But when they come down from their “shelves”, there is such a mass of people that it is almost impossible to move, since they are standing shoulder to shoulder.  It is thus impossible for the prisoners to move in the cells to exercise their legs.  This situation, together with the fact that the 251 detainees are kept inside their cells practically all day long, has necessarily resulted in their physical and even mental state being affected by the lack of exercise.


          Most of the prisoners also complain of the food and of the lack of medical attention.


          In one of the cells, a group of detainees, who were questioned in private, informed the IACHR that the cell held 43 people, and that there was dehydration and suffocation caused by the tremendous heat.


          g)          The José Enríquez (“La Pólvora”) Prison


          10.          The Commission visited this detention center, which is located in Granada, on October 8.


          The prison authorities provided the Commission with the list of the 315 people detained there, and the Commission had the opportunity to interview some of them in private.


          Each cell holds approximately 40 prisoners, despite the fact that they were constructed for no more than 10.  Most of the prisoners sleep on the floor, having no bed or mattress: this aggravates the problem of overcrowding, which, according to the prisoners, is their most serious problem.


          The great majority of the detainees said that they had been recruited by the National Guard, although in a few cases, there were also national Guard Officers.


          One of the major problems, in addition to the overcrowding and the lack of adequate food, that the Commission found in this prison was the total lack of ventilation in the cells; this, together with the hot temperatures in this area, made the detention extremely uncomfortable.


          During the Commission’s visit to this detention center, it was able to verify that executions had taken place in July 1979 in La Pólvora, on orders of Commander Wilmer, the person in charge at that time.  [3]/


          h)          Ruth Rodríguez


          11.          The IACHR visited this Women’s Detention Center in Granada on October 8, and found the conditions to be satisfactory. [4]/


          i)          La Quinta Ye


          12.          This farm was expropriated by the revolutionary government, and now serves as a detention center on the outskirts of León.  It is also currently used as a small military base, Since its expropriation, it has been officially called the Oscar Pérez Cazar Unit.


          The Quinta Ye, was not listed by the government as a detention center, perhaps because it is not part of the national penitentiary system.  Nonetheless, the facility is under the Department of State Security and houses 23 accused persons.


          The Chief of Operations of the Quinta Ye is Mr. Carlos Najar.  According to him 17 of the 23 prisoners, all of whom are male, were former members of the National Guard, and the rest were accused of having committed counter-revolutionary acts, such as illegally bearing arms and falsification of documents.  The Quinta Ye is considered by its authorities to be a temporary detention center.  Most of the prisoners had been there for approximately a month, during which time the authorities were carrying out their investigations.


          Two of the detainees interviewed said that they were 16 years old.  The oldest was 66.  According to the prisoners, the treatment was more or less good.  The food was adequate and included rice, beans, meat, soft drinks and coffee.  They said that they received presents from their families, but they were not allowed visits.


          The Quinta Ye has five cells, as well as a punishment cell.  All of them are deplorable.  Each is small and hot; there are neither beds nor windows.  The detainees are not allowed to spend time in the sun or to exercise outside their cells.


          j)          Francisco Meza Rehabilitation Center


          13.          Under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Social Welfare, this new juvenile center was recently inaugurated.  At the time of the IACHR’s visit, it held 22 juveniles, al male, aged fifteen or under.


          The Juveniles did craft work and also had school classes.  They enjoyed recreation facilities such as volleyball.


          The person in charge, Mrs. Marcia Ramírez, told the Commission that a first group of 20 juveniles had already graduated, and that 19 of them had jobs.


C.       Major Problems in the Detention and Confinement Centers


          1.          As the IACHR told the government of national Reconstruction in its preliminary recommendations, prison conditions in general are incompatible with internationally recommended minimum standards.  Of the various problems that exist, the Commission will refer to the following four, which it considers to be of priority: a. overcrowding; b. health conditions; c. food, and d. the visitation Regulations.


          a)          Overcrowding


          2.          A General comment about all the prisons that the Commission visited is that undeniably they are overcrowded: the problem is most severe in the Juan José Quezada, Jorge Navarro (La Modelo) and the Héroes y Mártires de Nueva Guinea (Free Zone) prisons.


          The authorities have recognized the seriousness of the problem and understand that to a large extent, some of the special problems described below are closely related to the question of overcrowding.


          The construction of the new prison facility in Chinandega shows a desire to ameliorate the problem.  The recent pardon granted to more than 500 prisoners, including some 72 held in the Women’s prison in Granada, during the Commission’s on-site observation, has partially alleviated the problem.


          Nonetheless, the closing of the El Coyote prison, while essential, has made the problem of overcrowding in the other prisons more severe, at least temporarily. 


          Also, the most recent detentions of person’s accused of counter-revolutionary behavior have to some extent neutralized the relief gained from overcrowding by the pardons granted in the recent past.


          It must also be noted that a planned new prison on which construction had begun in Granada had to be abandoned when it was realized that the original design was hopelessly deficient.


          b)          Health and sanitation conditions


          3.          There is not the slightest doubt that both the political and common detainees and convicts do not have the medical care they need, and that they are living in deplorable sanitary conditions.


          Although there is a medical unit responsible for dealing with prison needs, it cannot keep up with all the prisons in the country.  As a result, there are large numbers of people not receiving care, who have told of their anguish and even of their despair.  There were people with spinal injuries in tremendous pain that were asking to be transferred and to receive medical treatment.  A large percentage of prisoners were suffering from malaria and others had tuberculosis, but they were not segregated from the other prisoners.  While the other prisoners showed no symptoms of these infectious diseases, they must also be in a position to become carriers as a result of the continuous living in close quarters.  Not only is there no treatment for these sick prisoners, but here is no medicine.  The Commission has seen a good number of cases of hepatitis, in some instances very advanced, who were also not receiving proper medical attention and who were not isolated from the rest of the as-yet uninfected population.  This has created a situation in which the diseases are likely to spread, not only to the remaining detainees but also to warden and visitors.


          A fairly obvious point that is undoubtedly linked to this overall situation has to do with the unsanitary and even dirty conditions in which the prisoners are living.


          The inadequate number of bathrooms and facilities for washing clothes contributes further to the unhealthiness of the detention centers, particularly given the almost constant hot weather in most of the country.       


          c)          Food


          4.          It is enough to say that the food is bad, insufficient and almost unvaried.  It consisted of a portion of rice boiled with beans.  From time to time, a small piece of meat was added.  The prisoners normally ate only once a day.


          The lack of fruit and other food has now been corrected to some extent, because according to information the Commission received after its on-site observation, the prison authorities are allowing the families of prisoners to bring in food.


          d)          Visits


          5.          As regards the policy on visiting, it must be borne in mind that the National Penitentiary System follows one practice and what are know as the “confinement centers”, which fall under the Department of State Security, follow another.  The “confinement centers” are El Chipote, La Quinta Ye and previously, El Coyote.


          The following analysis refers to the National Penitentiary System.  As to the “confinement centers”, it must be said that they hold persons accused, under investigation but not yet brought to trial.  In the El Chipote Confinement Center, for example, the prisoners do not have set visiting hours.  The fat that these military centers are not under the jurisdiction of the National Penitentiary System shows their exceptional character.


          As regards the prisons administered by the Penitentiary System, it can be said that up to approximately one month before the on-site observation.  The Nicaraguan prison system allowed one visit per month by family members and friends of the prisoner.  At present, prisoners can receive visitors twice a month.


          Previously, visitors used to wait for long hours in order to enter the prison facilities and at times had to sit under the strong sun or in the rain.


          The visitors were routinely subject to meticulous frisking and searches of their personal property.  They then had to wait outdoors, at the mercy of the elements.


          However, some steps have been taken recently to correct these problems.  The Commission has been informed that the waiting period is now not as long, and that the searches are conducted less offensively.  In the case of the Jorge Navarro (La Modelo) prison, a shed has been conducted o put a roof over the heads of the prisoners and their visitors.  The same may be said about entry given to defending attorneys, who are now given greater access to their clients.


          Materials are now allowed to be brought in so that the prisoners can do manual and handicrafts work.


          However, although food is allowed to be brought in more frequently, it should be noted that the rules on this vary very much from prison to prison.  That is to say, the food and other articles that can be brought in to prisoners are changed without advance notice form one visit to the next, for reasons that are difficult to understand.  For example, at different times, the newspaper la Prensa, radios of more than one waveband, powdered soap (detergent), salt, fruit, lemons, tomato sauce, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, etc. have been permitted and then prohibited or vise-versa.


          These changes may have their rationale, but the important thing here is to establish a system without frequent changes.


          Although the law makes provision for conjugal visits, this privilege is not currently being granted because of the overcrowding in the prisons and the lack of appropriate facilities.


D.          Treatment of prisoners by wardens


          1.          In general, it can be said that torture is not practiced in Nicaraguan jails.  It seems that even when incidents of this nature do occur, higher authorities do not authorize them.  The Government reported that those responsible for excesses are punished, but the files the Commission requested on this have not been forthcoming.


          2.          Despite the foregoing, abuses have occurred.  Some of the alleged cases are listed below:


a)                 ALBERTO SUHR, architect, unmarried, 38 years old, sentenced to ten years imprisonment for conspiracy to commit a crime and attempted homicide, a victim of polio since childhood, currently hospitalized and undergoing physical therapy, was repeatedly beaten for several days on different parts of his body when he was arrested.  He becomes temporarily deaf in the right ear.  The little finger of his right hand was paralyzed by blows form a piece of rubber tubing on his biceps.  These tortures were stopped after his first weeks of imprisonment in the El Chipote prison.  [5]/


b)                 DONALD RICO MORALES 22 years old currently imprisoned in the Free Zone had been in the E.E.B.I. for 6 months prior to the insurrection.  He was savagely tortured to the point where two of his ribs were broken and his body was left covered with bruises.  A jailed physician examined him and said that the bruises were due to coagulated blood; the largest of the bruises was on his lower shoulder blade.



Although these cases can be considered as isolated anomalies, nonetheless they clearly deserve investigation, and the responsibility for the crimes should be determined.


3.          As regard the treatment of prisoners, it is also important to note that unnecessary attacks and humiliations are inflicted on prisoners in some detention centers.  For example, prisoners in the Jorge Navarro (La Modelo) prison have been obliged to sing the Sandinista hymn and to attend obligatory political meetings (these practices have now been stopped), and on a number of occasions, they have been subject to nightly body checks.


Another point that should be mentioned is the question of reading materials.  For more than a year after the Revolution, prisoners were not allowed to receive books, newspapers or magazines except for the official Government newspaper Barricada, however.  This practice was changed about one month before the Commission’s visit.


4.          Another problem is the question of recreation. As a general rule, the prisoners have very few recreational facilities.  The number of hours that they are permitted outside is very limited and often capriciously changed.  None of the prisons visited by the commission had sports facilities.


          Further, it is worth to recalling that most of the prisoners are of the Catholic faith.  However, they are not allowed to attend mass or to confess to a priest, in the case of serious illness, they are denied access to the sacrament of the sick.


E.       Special situation of juvenile and the elderly


          1.          A situation that is of particular concern to the Commission is the position of juveniles and the elderly in prison.  The status of women might also have been of concern, but with very few exceptions.  This problem has been resolved, because of the pardon granted by the Government in the law of “Pardon by Revolutionary Justice”, issued on October 10, 1980, which pardoned all women over 50 years of age on December 31, 1980 who were either in prison or under house arrest.


a.          The status of juveniles


2.          During its visit, the Commission saw juveniles detained in facilities with older prisoners.  Many of the juveniles, almost all of whom were ex-private and peasants, had been recruited by the National Guard.  While others had fled with their military fathers at the moment of victory; a number of boys had been brought up in National Guard barracks and smaller number were former members of the Infantry Basic Training School.


3.          During its visit to prisoners in Nicaragua, the Commission talked with a number of juveniles who said that the National Guard had recruited them at an early age.


The Commission had the opportunity in the Modelo Prison, to talk with a juvenile whom the warders called “el saca ojos” (‘the eye-gouger’).  A nickname he was reportedly given because it was said he had been used in the torture carried out against members of the Sandinista Front, whose eyes he had gouged out with his fingers.  The boy said that he was 14 years old.  He repeatedly denied the accusation, and said that he had been enlisted in the National Guard practically by force.  He said that his work in the Guard had been the same as he was doing in the prison: cleaning the dormitories, the bathrooms and the kitchen,; this was indeed his job in jail, and it naturally brought him into contact with all the prisoners.


Another juvenile interviewed reported that he had been a cadet in the National Guard and a student in the Military Academy up to the moment he was detained.  He denied any participation in military action.  The prison guards also called him “the eye-gouger”, and the same thing was said about yet another juvenile.


Another confinement center that held juveniles was the Héroes y Mártires de Nueva Guinea Social re-adaptation Center, better known as the Free Zone prison.


4.          The situation created by the presence of so many juveniles detained in common prisons is very delicate, and the Commission cannot ignore it, given its gravity and the serious mental trauma that may be caused in the still unformed minds of these children, leaving indelible imprints on their moral growth. 


This situation is being resolved in part, although not to a sufficient extent, with the transfer of these juveniles to Juvenile Protection Centers under the Ministry of Social Welfare.  [6]/


b)          The elderly


5.          According to figures provided to the Commission, 277 prisoners over 50 years of age were being held in various jails in Nicaragua.  The oldest prisoner at that time was 80 years old.  Recently, nine of these elderly persons have been pardoned, and the prison sentence of others has been changed to house arrest.


For the most part, the elderly are political prisoners, and only a few are common criminals.


Another interesting figure is that 115 of the prisoners are more than 60 years old.


Thus, even allowing for the 9 prisoners who have been released, a large number of the elderly are still in prison.


The Commission recommends that the Nicaraguan authorities find a way of identifying older prisoners, who actually pose no threat to public order and as far as possible, pardon those who deserve it, or change their sentence to that of house arrest.  [7]/

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[1]         Article 5 of the American convention states: “Right to Humane Treatment.  1.  Every person has the right to have his physical, mental, and moral integrity respected.  2.  No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman, or degrading punishment or treatment.  All persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person.  3.  Punishment shall not be extended to any person other than the criminal.  4.  Accused persons shall, save in exceptional circumstances, be segregated from convicted persons, and shall be subject to separate treatment appropriate to their status as un-convicted persons.  5.  Minors who are subject to criminal proceedings shall be separated from adults and brought before specialized tribunals, as speedily as possible, so that they may be treated in accordance with their status as minors.  6.  Punishment consisting of deprivation of liberty shall have as an essential aim the reform and social re-adaptation of the prisoners.”

[2]         In June 1981, the Government advised the Commission that all the former members of the National Guard and the other political prisoners currently in jail in Nicaragua had been transferred to the Jorge Navarro (La Modelo) and the Héroes y Mártires de Nueva Guinea (Free Zone) detention centers.  The Benjamín Zeledón (El Coyotepe), the José Luis Enríquez (La Pólvora) and the José Quezada (Jinotepe) prisons had been closed.  The new Orlando Betancourt center is now used only for common criminals.

[3]         This problem of executions in La Pólvora is dealt with in Chapter II, section B, page 41 et seg.

[4]         As stated in Chapter III, section E, 72 women were subsequently released, with only two remaining in detention.

[5]         The case of Alberto Suhr, case No. 7484, is dealt with in Chapter III.  See page 63.

[6]           Subsequent to the Commission on-site observation, the Government reported that all juveniles under 17 years of age had been transferred to rehabilitation centers under the Ministry of Social Welfare.

[7]         In its observations on the Preliminary Report of the IACHR, the Government declared that it had taken up some of the preliminary recommendations the Commission had made in situ and that it had effected the following changes: 1.  The prison population serving sentences imposed by the Special Tribunals had fallen to 3,580 at that time, a figure that will continue to fall as prisoners serving 1-2 years complete their sentences.  2.  The frequency of visits is regulated as follows: a. every 8 days for prisoners doing productive work, which in any event, is paid, b. every 15 days for prisoners who do no work. Food, magazines, newspapers, books and radios are allowed to be brought in both cases.  3.  New bathroom and toilets have been installed in each of the levels, which has solved the problem in that regard.  The prisoners have access to places were they can wash their clothes more frequently.  4.  Where wardens, in violation of the laws and regulations, have committed abuses against a person detained or confined, the penalty has been made more severe, and the violator is immediately put under the orders of the Military Judge Advocate for judgment and, if wanted , sentencing.  At the moment, there are a number of warders in detention.  5.  Medicines reach the prisoners through the physicians of the NATIONAL PENITENTIAY SYSTEM, doctors of the International Red Cross Committee and the “POLIVALENTES” or aids who are directly responsible for the health of prisoners.  6.  Al types of religious service are allowed in all penitentiary centers.  And may be freely attended.  7.  Measures have been taken to see that prisoners’ families are searched as discreetly as possible;  in many cases, they are not searched at all. 8.  Here now no juveniles in the prisons, because the have been transferred to centers controlled by the Ministry of Social Welfare.  9. The hygiene of the prisoner has notably improved over the last few months.  10.  Expansion of the Jorge Navarro Unit is under examination, and this would enable congestion in existing centers to be reduced.  11.  The practice of requiring prisoners to sing the Sandinista Hymn and attend political meetings was abolished some time ago.