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Colombia: Violence at prison

04-05-2000 News Release 00/16

The violent clashes that broke out on 27 April at La Modelo prison in Bogotá, where more than 4,300 people are being held, killed 32 detainees and injured some 20 more. At the request of prisoners and authorities alike, ICRC delegates went to the scene to help arrange a cease-fire and evacuate the wounded, the dead, and four women who had been on the premises when the clashes occurred.

On 30 April, the ICRC's presence was again requested during a thorough search of the prison ordered by Colombia's National Security Council.

Fighting between detainees is frequent in Colombian prisons. The violence is a source of concern to the ICRC, which regularly visits more than 150 places of detention in the country. A similar incident in La Modelo prison on 8December 1999 resulted in the death of 12persons while 12 others were injured. In view of the seriousness of the situation, various groups of detainees signed a truce last March and committed themselves in particular to a process of " disarmament " .