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Guards at the Maputo Preventive Penitentiary have sexually abused several prisoners during a prisoner search, a Mozambican prisoner support association claimed yesterday.
The guards claimed to be looking for cell phones hidden in cells to force “some inmates to take off their clothes” and to justify the sexual violence during the action, according to the Association for Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Young Offenders (APREJOR).
The situation “has caused outrage among the inmates, who recount incidents of mistreatment, torture, sexual assault, sexual offences and insults,” the organisation adds.
The search took place during the night and was led by senior officials of the National Penitentiary Service, according to the organisation, citing inmates who witnessed the incident.
The organisation says prison director José Machado confirmed the abuses and apologised for the incident.
“APREJOR appeals to the Attorney General’s Office (PGR) and human rights institutions to set up a commission of inquiry” to look into what happened and hold those involved accountable.
Lusa tried unsuccessfully to contact the penitentiary director, while A Verdade spoke to one of the inmates, who wished to remain anonymous.
“At around 11 pm yesterday [April 2], we experienced a serious problem here in the Cadeia Civil [Maputo Preventive Penitentiary Establishment]. We ask for your help so that this is not repeated, because the direction of the jail wants us to keep quiet and even apologised,” she said.
Another inmate told A Verdade that senior officers of the National Penitentiary Service (SERNAP) ordered a Force of Services for the Prevention and Management of Declared Violence (SPGVD), known as the rapid intervention force of the prisonst in the jail to carry out a mobile phone search in the cells but “did not find one phone. There was a beating that did not end … “.
The agents then “used a pair of gloves to inspect the girls’ vaginas,” despite some of them being “sick and infected with diseases such as HIV. Others were menstruating and could contaminate the others. I did not like to see it, I am disgusted (…),” the source reported.
Asked how many Rapid Intervention Unit [SPGVD] personnel were involved, interviewees could only say that there were “many”, with three at a time in each of the 10 cells in the women’s section.
None of the victims were seriously injured but at least 35 inmates were treated at the facility’s medical centre for bruises on the buttocks and other parts of the body, and antibiotics and other palliatives were prescribed.
A Verdade tried unsuccessfully to speak to the management of Maputo Preventive Penitentiary, and was not allowed access to the prison.
A Verdade does however report that the director of the penitentiary, José Machado, confirmed to APREJOR that hands were introduced into the genitals of the inmates in the presence of male agents.
Attempts by A Verdade to obtain SERNAP’s reaction also failed, it remaining unclear whether the institution was even aware of the matter.
The APREJOR communique
Association for Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Young Offenders (APREJOR) – Press Release
The Association for Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Young Offenders (APREJOR), takes note of the occurrence last Monday, April 2, 2018, in the women’s wing of the Special Preventive Establishment of Maputo, formerly the Civil Jail, of a search to the cells, in order to remove equipment and materials considered prohibited within the penitentiary establishment.
Given the modus operandi of the Force of Services for the Prevention and Management of Declared Violence (SPGVD), known as the rapid intervention force of the prisons, the action caused panic among inmates who report moments of actual assault, torture, sexual violence, sexual harassment and public offence to modesty.
The incident occurred at night, when all the inmates were asleep. The force was allegedly directed by senior officers of the National Penitentiary Service (SERNAP).
From contact with inmates we learned that the agents searched for cell phones in their genitals and tortured them to get them to say where they hid such equipment.
Because they did not find what they were looking for during the search, they beat some of the inmates with batons, with record of some of them left with bruises on the buttocks and other parts of the body.
Officers forced some inmates to take off their clothes, pull down their underwear and bend over while one of the agents introducing [the ] hand into the genitals of the inmates in search of prohibited objects, using a single glove for all of them.
APREJOR vehemently repudiates such acts as violating fundamental human rights and dignity, and further understands that the agents have even placed their victims at risk of contracting infectious diseases.
After learning about these facts, APREJOR put into motion mechanisms to obtain more information, in particular with eyewitnesses and later with the management of the penitentiary. José Machado, director of the penitentiary, confirmed that the hand had been introduced into the genitals of the inmates in the presence of male agents.Source: Lusa / A Verdade / APREJOR
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