Central and South America
House of Lords
Lord Howell of Guildford (Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office; Conservative)
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) recognises the importance of improving prison conditions throughout Central and South America to ensure that fundamental human rights are upheld. We encourage all states which have not yet done so to ratify and effectively implement the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture, which provides for international and domestic monitoring of all places of detention. A number of our posts in the region have raised the issue of prison conditions with local authorities. Posts will continue to do so where appropriate.
The FCO has supported a small number of projects this financial year that focus on or support prison reform, which are detailed in the table below:
|Brazil||Combating torture and criminal justice violations to improve the treatment of prisoners according to international human rights standards.|
|Brazil||Developing a national preventive mechanism in line with Brazil's OPCAT obligations.|
|Chile||Bilateral co-operation with Chilean Ministry of Justice, including implementation of a new system to rehabilitate minor offenders.|
|Chile||International seminars on reoffending and resettlement of offenders.|
|Colombia||Project on ratification and effective implementation of OPCAT.|
|Ecuador||Capacity building to promote international human rights standards in visits to prisons and detention centres.|
|Venezuela||Human rights and due process training for inmates and prison authorities.|
We work closely with our EU partners in Central and South America, including in support of EU-funded prison reform projects. The UK also raises this issue in international fora such as the United Nations Human Rights Council.
The development of non-custodial sentences in Central and South America is not a current priority for the FCO, although it has been raised in some discussions with countries in the region, including in the context of prison reform seminars in Chile. Nevertheless we would consider future small-scale interventions in support of this issue where they tally with existing priorities.