Prison shut down for Human Rights Violations still taking new prisoners and torturing them for years
Updated: Nov 29, 2019
In 2012 the Panamanian Ombudsman visited La Palma prison and shut it down, deeming it unfit for human incarceration. What they found was a derelict building, filled to the brim with people chained to the walls for days, weeks and sometimes months on end - as Mr. Tuffney experienced.
Pictured Below: The outside of the prison in La Palma.
Ombudsman, Lilia Herrera Mow, accompanied by a number of her staff, conducted an intense work tour in 2012 throughout the province of Darien, meeting with various provincial authorities to acknowledge the humanitarian needs facing this region of the country. During this investigation, she discovered the frequent issues facing various prisons, including that of La Palma. The common themes of prison failings involved a lack of ventilation and lighting, poor bathroom conditions, lack of general hygiene, and poor nutrition. Her findings from this investigation were that the conditions in La Palma were so inhumane that the prison must be shut down. This was noted officially in government documents such as this (see page 8).
The Ombudsman even reported their findings and filed a formal complaint about the conditions. They promised to do their best with helping the people trapped inside with their access to Human Rights denied. [See more here]
[Picture was taken from Ombudsman Report]
[Pictured above a man making his own shoes because of lack of provisions from prison]
Somehow, despite the La Palma Prison being shut down in 2012, Mr. Tuffney was sent there in June 2013, after the British Embassy had explicitly told the Prosecutor's Office to not send him there. Thanks to the Freedom of Information Act we were able to see the official case notes (pictured below), showing he was sent to a prison that was understood to be in violation of Human Rights laws.
Pictured below left and the middle is images taken from the Ombudsman website. The first shows former prisoner Loor protesting the Human Rights abuses he suffered at La Palma; the second, an event the Ombudsmen hosted to celebrate the job they were doing with regards to their humanitarian efforts. Pictured below right is the condition Mr. Tuffney was found in by his attorney when visiting the prison in 2013, a year after the prison was supposed to have been shut down. He had been chained to a radiator for two months.
An Ombudsman report in 2014 showed that 2 years after the issues were raised, efforts were still being made to improve conditions in the prison and people were still being held there in horrendous conditions. Situations such as these must not be ignored by governments, yet people much as Mr. Tuffney and Loor continue to be sent there to this day.
Below images taken from Ombudsman report on 2014, 2 years after government documents stated the prison should be closed.