25 Nov 2020
IRCT experts: strong evidence that prisoners in Colombia were shot with the "objective of killing"

The IRCT and the Independent Forensic Expert Group (IFEG), upon analysing 24 autopsy reports of killed detainees during a prison riot in March 2020, conclude there is strong evidence of intentional killing. IRCT and IFEG experts were requested by Human Rights Watch to conduct a comprehensive review of the autopsy reports.

The analysis shows that Colombian authorities must take action and review the circumstances in which 24 detainees were killed, where there could be a breach in international human rights law.

IRCT experts: strong evidence that prisoners in Colombia were shot with the

24 prisoners died and 107 people were injured during a prison riot in La Modelo jail in Bogatá on March 21, 2020. The riot grew from a demand for adequate conditions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Detainees were fearing the spread of the virus due overcrowding and unhygienic conditions in the prison. IRCT and IFEG analysed 24 autopsy reports provided by Colombia’s National Institute for Legal Medicine and Forensic Science. The experts found “Most of the gunshot wounds described in the autopsy reports are consistent with having been produced with the objective of killing those targeted” and “the autopsy reports do not record any signs of gunshot injuries carried out with the intention of solely injuring individuals instead of killing them (e.g., shooting someone in the leg to stop them from running).”

The experts could however not conclude whether the detainees had been subjected to torture and ill-treatment. However, they found that “in some of the cases, the autopsies describe recent non-lethal injuries produced in or around the time of death which are unrelated to the gunshot injuries, including defence wounds on forearms. Such injuries typically result from attempts to stop a physical attack from another individual.”

The experts do not determine who fired during the riots, but the report raises questions about compliance with international human rights law and the importance of a thorough investigation of evidence.

Read the whole IRCT and IFEG submission here

For more information on the riot, see here.

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