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Guatemalan prison riots continue; rights groups call for reform

[JURIST] Three days after gang related riots [JURIST report] in seven Guatemalan prisons killed 35 inmates, three more inmate gang members were injured in riots Thursday. A later search of the prison uncovered 3 grenades, 6 guns and many homemade weapons. Blanca de Stalling, the director of an association of public defense lawyers, the Institute of Criminal Public Defense, says she warned the Guatemalan Interior Ministry [official website, in Spanish] of danger in early August after inmates had urged her not to visit because other prisoners had grenades. Interior Minister Carlos Vielmann issued a statement saying the weapons used earlier this week "were brought in that day or one day earlier and can't be the same ones over which Ms. Stalling filed a complaint."

In a related development, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights [official website] and the Organization of American States [official website] have condemned Guatemala [press release] and demanded attention be paid to the prison problems. Pro Justice Movement issued a statement that prisoners "are indisputably human beings who, independent of the crimes they have committed, have a right to live and the state is obligated to protect" that right. AP has more.

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