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Cablegate: Nicarauga: Prison Protest & Police Abuse

VZCZCXRO0536
PP RUEHLMC
DE RUEHMU #0914/01 2641348
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 211348Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4567
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAHLC/HOMELAND SECURITY CENTER WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORP WASHDC PRIORITY
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUMIAAA/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL//J2/J3/J5// PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANAGUA 000914

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR WHA/CEN KRAAIMOORE
DEPT FOR DRL MAGGIO
DEPT FOR INL/IIA ARCHULETA
STATE FOR USOAS
STATE FOR USAID

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/20/2019
TAGS: PGOV PHUM SOCI NU
SUBJECT: NICARAUGA: PRISON PROTEST & POLICE ABUSE

Classified By: Ambassador Robert J. Callahan for reasons 1.4 (b & d)

1. (C) SUMMARY: New cases of degrading and discriminatory
treatment in Nicaragua,s prisons are back in the news. On
September 8, a complaint was filed against an Atlantic Coast
police chief for violating a juvenile prisoner's human rights
by forbidding him to defecate. On September 9, five female
spouses of inmates in the Modelo penitentiary in Tipitapa
filed complaints against prison officials for "degrading and
unsanitary treatment" during body cavity searches. These are
only the latest examples of police abuse, discrimination and
prison mismanagement that highlight the miserable conditions
that most of Nicaragua's prisoners face. END SUMMARY

--------------------------------------------- -----
Police Chief Forbids BM - Discrimination or Abuse?
--------------------------------------------- -----

2. (U) On September 8, an attorney representing a juvenile of
Afro-Caribbean descent filed a complaint against Pearl Lagoon
Nicaraguan National Police (NNP) Chief Carlos Machado for
violating human rights. Machado, who is mestizo and from the
Pacific side of Nicaragua, allegedly forbade a juvenile
offender from defecating in the South Atlantic Autonomous
Region (RAAS) Pearl Lagoon Municipality holding cell.
According to the attorney, Machado threatened the juvenile
that if he defecated, "he would regret it." When the
juvenile could no longer hold his bowel movement, he
defecated into a plastic bag and threw it out the holding
cell window; whereupon Machado forced the juvenile to pick up
the plastic bag of excrement with his teeth.

3. (U) Afro-Caribbean leaders within the Pearl Lagoon
community were outraged and described Machado's actions as
"racist." Pearl Lagoon Territorial Government Secretary
Cristobal Garth told reporters that this was only the latest
case of discrimination and police abuse in the region. There
was another unresolved case in which police used excessive
force against another Afro-Caribbean juvenile. Community
leaders have called on the NNP to conduct investigations for
both cases. RAAS police Commissioner Ovidio Hernandez
Salguera told reporters that the NNP was aware of the cases
and has already ordered the Internal Affairs and Inspectorate
to investigate them.

---------------------------------------
Prison Protest Over One Glove & No Food
---------------------------------------

4. (U) On September 9, five female spouses of prisoners in
the Modelo prison at Tipitapa filed complaints with the Human
Rights Defense Commission (PDDH) against the National
Penitentiary System (SPN). The complaints alleged that they
were subjected to humiliating and unsanitary treatment when
their body cavities were searched by prison officials before
having conjugal meetings with their imprisoned husbands.
Moreover, the prison officials conducting the body cavity
search used the same surgical glove for all five women. In
the complaint, the women asserted this practice had
unnecessarily exposed them to communicable disease. The
complaints came at the same time that Modelo inmates had been
protesting the prison,s poor living conditions and the lack
of adequate food and medicine. Approximately 2,000 inmates
are housed in the Modelo facility, well in excess of its
capacity.

-------
COMMENT
-------

5. (C) Prison conditions are harsh at best for the thousands
of inmates crowded into Nicaragua,s penitentiary system.
Prison food is poor, medicine is scarce, and many prisoners
live in squalid conditions in a system that has had little or
no investment for years. Moreover, the police and prison
officials who work in the penal system are chronically
underpaid and prone to abuse detainees and their family

MANAGUA 00000914 002 OF 002


members, in part to exhort bribes or favors. While these two
cases are dramatic, they are not isolated, but rather
emblematic of the wider problems of Nicaragua's prison system.
CALLAHAN

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