Which is the status of the Mariona Prison during the period 17-12-81/09-06-83 (political prisoners, civil rights, others) [SLV2405]


La Esperanza Prison popularly known as the Mariona prison - as it is located in the town of Mariona, which borders with the Capital of San Salvador - houses male prisoners and it has presumably been during the years notorious for the harassment, mistreatment and even torture of some prisoners. In the 1980's it seems housed not only common prisoners but most of the political prisoners as well. [Information obtained by verbal communications with a representative of the Salvadoran Human Rights Commission (Toronto), on October 25-26. Phone (416) 482-2754.] "As of mid-September 1983, Mariona Prison had 376 Decree 507 prisoners..." [Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1981, Department of State, Washington D.C., February 1984, p. 556. Decree 507 instituted the State of Siege in December 1980.]

During most of the indicated period, El Salvador was under a state of siege which granted the armed forces a legal basis for the exercise of extraordinary authority in combating insurgency, which presumably meant the legal right to arrest without a warrant. [Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1981, February 1983, p. 491.]

Apparently overcrowding has been the rule in the Mariona Prison, as it was designed for approximately 800 inmates and by 1986 it was housing some 2400, approximately 1000 of whom were designated as 'political prisoners'. ["Waiting for Justice: Treatment of Political Prisoners under El Salvador's Decree 50", International Human Rights Law Group, Washington, D.C., March 1987, p. 86.]

Also, during the aforementioned dates, the Mariona prison is reported to have housed several prominent political prisoners from the Hydroelectrical Workers Union (Sindicato de Trabajadores Empresa Comisión Ejecutiva Hidroelectrica del Río Lempa) after a strike in August 1980, some of them remained detained until 1984. [See Amnesty International, Report 1984, pp. 151-2.] A series of hunger strikes, it seems were held inside by inmates and outside by their relatives to pressure the government in releasing the prisoners. [Information obtained by verbal communications with a representative the Salvadoran Human Rights Commission (Toronto). See also Amnesty International, Report 1981, Amnesty International Publications, London, 1981, p. 143. ]

There have been reports that during the said period, prisoners from the Mariona Prison were allegedly being transferred from prison to prison presumably with the aim of not just intimidating but even torturing them. [See Amnesty International Report 1983, p 135.]


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