Clashes in four Brazil prisons leave 40 dead

2019-05-28 13:36
Prison. (file)

Prison. (file)

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At least 40 inmates were killed in four jails in northern Brazil on Monday, authorities said, in the latest wave of violence to rock the country's severely overpopulated and dangerous prison system.

The victims appeared to have been killed by "asphyxiation", the Amazonas state government said in a statement, a day after 15 people were killed in one of the prisons.

Officials had initially put the number of dead at 42, but later revised the number to 40 without explanation.

At least 25 of the victims were found in the Antonio Trindade Penal Institute near Manaus, the capital of Amazonas, where all four prisons are located.

The federal government has dispatched reinforcements to boost security in the jails.

"I just spoke with (Justice) Minister Sergio Moro, who is sending a prison intervention team to Amazonas so that he can help us in this moment of crisis," state Governor Wilson Lima said.

Investigation

An investigation launched into Sunday's mass killing at the Anisio Jobim Penal Complex has been widened to include Monday's deaths.

Four of those killed in the latest violence were found at the Anisio Jobim jail, which was also the scene of a prison rebellion that lasted almost 20 hours and left 56 people dead in January 2017.

Another five were killed at the Provisional Detention Centre for Men and six died at the Puraquequara Prison Unit.

Outbreaks of deadly violence continue to happen in Brazil's jails due to the lack of "structural changes", according to experts.

"Prisons continue to be places of serious violations of human rights," said Juliana Melo, a professor at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte and expert on Brazil's prisons.

"The conditions are appalling, with a majority of prisoners poor, black, badly schooled and marginalised."

"Intense disputes" between criminal factions for control inside and outside the prisons fuel the violence, she added.

Brazil has the world's third largest prison population after the United States and China, with 726 712 inmates as of June 2016, according to official statistics.

The population is double the capacity of the nation's jails, which in the same year was estimated to be 368 049 inmates.

The federal government had been expected to add another 115 000 inmates by the end of 2018, Human Rights Watch said in a recent report.

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