The Correctional Court 1 of La Plata ordered the authorities of the Penal Unit 9 to take the necessary measures to “articulate the technological procedures” that avoid any type of “humiliating” practice in the searches that are carried out on the visits of detainees.
The decision stems from a resolution issued after a habeas corpus filed by relatives of people detained in that prison “In order to protect the dignified treatment at the time of visits, stop the harmful acts and repair the omissions of the prison authorities that do not protect their dignity and respect”.
“Every day of the week, during the morning hours, a group of penitentiary agents (female and male), who carry out their duties in the visiting section, they deploy a direct attack towards the people who come to visit those detained there, particularly against women and childrenby imposing certain procedures that are characterized by their mortifying, illegitimate and humiliating nature, which caused them to enter the hospital crying on several occasions as a result of the mistreatment received”, reported the plaintiff in his presentation.
According to what was reported, upon entering the Penal Unit, the families they are taken to a sector where they are forced to undress completely, raise their armpits, open their mouths, shake their hair, raise the soles of their feet, change their feminine protectors and, in the case of babies, their diapers; actions that are supervised by prison staff who at the same time proceed to thoroughly check the clothing.
According to the habeas corpus, several people have received threats, shouts and insults from the women who work in that area in response to family members’ complaints about ill-treatment. “This pattern of harassment and violation of rights has a direct impact on detainees, since many times they see the possibility of receiving visits from family and friends obstructed, to whom personal documents are unduly withheld,” the Provincial Commission for the Memory, patron of the relatives.
Along these lines, he reported that in response to the habeas corpus and the request for information on the search procedures, the authorities of Penal Unit 9 indicated that “in principle, there are no records of irregularities being caused by the prison staff who had as their addressed to relatives of persons deprived of liberty”, and with respect to body searches, they indicated that they comply with the Search Procedure Manual prepared by the Security Directorate of the Buenos Aires Penitentiary Service (SPB).
Given the complaint, the Correctional Court 1 considered that, in the face of the “Possible affectation of rights of constitutional and conventional roots, it is essential to build protection mechanisms that avoid illegitimate overflows, such as the one that emanates from the acts questioned here”.
“Beyond the existence of alternative mechanisms, manual body searches -in order to prevent prohibited or dangerous materials from entering the establishment- are practiced, and the rights to privacy, dignity and honor and personal integrity of the persons may be affected. and visitors to the Unit, which has repercussions on the right of persons deprived of their liberty to maintain family and emotional ties, by discouraging attendance at the establishment,” the resolution stated.
For this, “it turns out It is necessary to articulate the technological control procedures with conventional searches and searches, always safeguarding respect for the modesty, dignity and sexual integrity of those who are searched.”.