- Prisión Insular Punta Coco - EFE
Panamanian Government began today the transfer of twelve highly dangerous prisoners to a controversial island prison, which was reshaped after receiving complaints that its conditions violated the human rights of the inmates.
The Ministry of Government indicated in a noted that "after having met the necessary conditions and demanded by the Supreme Court of Justice, has begun the transfer of 12 high profile prisoners" to the Preventive Detention Center of Punta Coco, in an island of the Panamanian Pacific.
The transfer of the prisoners, it added, is done to "protect society", as well as to safeguard their own "physical integrity", and the center "guarantees the best conditions of detention, compliance with fundamental guarantees and the preservation of the judicial processes".
Punta Coco, located on a military base of the National Aeronaval Service (Senan) on Isla del Rey, more than 100 kilometers south of the Panamanian Pacific coast, has been noted for its harsh conditions of seclusion and isolation by various international organizations, including the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).
The Official Gazette published on Thursday a resolution of the Ministry of Government authorizing the reopening of the controversial prison and ensures that Punta Coco "is suitable to be used again for the purposes it was created," that is, to house high-risk prisoners and prevent them from continuing to control their criminal gangs.
The Panamanian Minister of Government, Carlos Rubio, told reporters on Thursday that, after the new renovations, Punta Coco "complies with all international and local regulations."
In March 2016, the IACHR asked the Government to take measures to end the "isolation situation" of six gang leaders imprisoned in Punta Coco and the Government finally decided to transfer them to other centers and empty the island prison.
The authorities reported in August 2017 that they had started some refurbishment works in the prison and in June 2018 they sent 12 inmates there.
But the same past June the Panamanian Supreme decreed illegal the detention in Punta Coco of the 12 inmates, which forced the Executive of President Juan Carlos Varela to remove them from the place.
President Varela then regretted the judicial decision arguing that the inmates who were in Punta Coco were "responsible for a large part of the drug trafficking" in Panama, and that their imprisonment there prevented them from continuing to give orders and controlling their criminal gangs.