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  • Writer's picturePanama Human Rights

President claims prison deaths are gang-related; our evidence shows the real cause which is horrific

Updated: Nov 28, 2019

Investigan hallazgo de varios artículos en pabellón de La Joya

'The Ministry of Government has announced it has initiated an investigation into the findings of several prohibited articles in the penitentiary Center La Jewel.'

No data has ever been released on the details of how prisoners die, but authorities are adamant that prisoners die only of gang-related fighting or "natural causes". Mr. Tuffney witnessed first-hand deaths from the severe lack of basic human rights. One case was that of British inmate Mark Bodden who tragically fell to his death from a makeshift bed 9ft off the floor, his body left on the floor for 12 hours in a room built for 5 people, yet housing 12.

Overcrowding is rife in Panamanian prisons. 'Pavillion 6' in La Joya Prison, the block Mr. Tuffney was housed, held 477 inmates, having been built to withstand just 144. The severity of this disparity caused mass panic with inmates and made even worse by the complete lack of water and medical care to the facility. Fights were commonplace for resources like water as Mr. Tuffney experienced himself. As expected, going through severe anxiety, panic attacks and with no access to medications or psychological care, many prisoners turn to drugs and alcohol to cope. Prison officials are happy to cater to this and ensure that drugs and alcohol are readily available to prisoners at all times - as long as they can pay the cost. Liquor convoys enter the facility on a daily basis and have only increased in numbers during Varela's presidency. The Ministry of Government, through the Directorate General of the Penitentiary System, have announced that they have opened an investigation into the findings of numerous contraband in La Joya Prison. President Varela claims this is gang-related.

The video below shows an interview with the police commissioner admitting the problems which are unfortunately continuing to this day.

This catalog of blunders is systemic and until a new president is elected these needless deaths are going to continue with Varella’s corrupt police force.


Watch the TVN video below by clicking the link:



Pictured: contraband found inside the prison at La Joya


Residents nearby spoke to reporters about the smuggling of contraband into the prisons and their experience.


#LaJoyaprisonPanamá #TVN2

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