14 April 2020 – Use of house arrest to replace imprisonment to avoid prison overcrowding

Type of Intervention: Executive Order, Specific Action
Sectors Involved: Corrections / Justice, Local Government, Police and Interior Affairs
Level of Jurisdiction: National
Lead People/Agency: Decision made by President and Cabinet of Ministers.

Ministry of Justice and National Penitentiary Institute (INPEC for its name in Spanish) are leading the implementation

Overview: Measures are adopted to replace the prison sentence and the measure to ensure preventive detention in penitentiary and prison establishments with house arrest and temporary house arrest at the place of residence for people who are in a situation of greater vulnerability to COVID- 19, and other measures are taken to combat prison overcrowding and prevent and mitigate the risk of spread.

People who have been diagnosed with the disease coronavirus COVID-19 within Penitentiary and Prison Establishments in the national territory, or in transitory detention centers, will be transferred by the INPEC to the places that are most suitable for treatment or to the health institutions that are arranged by the competent authorities; they will not be granted the measure of assurance of temporary arrest or house arrest, until the medical and health authorities so authorize.

Transitional preventive detention or house arrest instead of residence will have a term of six (6) months.
Full details here: https://www.minjusticia.gov.co/Portals/0/Decreto_546_2020/DECRETO%20546%20DE%202020%20-%20MinJusticia%20-%20Sustituir%20Pena%20de%20Prision%20y%20la%20Medida%20de%20Aseguramiento%20de%20Detencion%20Preventiva%20por%20Prision%20y%20Detencion%20Domiciliaria%20-%2020200412.pdf

Type of Justification: Advice of INTERNAL government advisory committee or group, Advice of EXTERNAL expert advisor or advisory committee, Perception of an increased threat
Source of Evidence or Justification: World Health Organisation, National – government, International – other
Evidence/Justification: The current confinement makes penitentiary and prison establishments an area of significant transmission of the disease coronavirus COVID-19, which can put the health status of all the people who interact in said environment at risk and it is necessary to implement urgent measures of character urgent.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights -CIDH- in its press release 66/20 of March 31, 2020, urged the States to face the very serious situation of people deprived of liberty in the region and to adopt immediate measures to guarantee health and integrity of this population facing the effects of the disease, particularly urging States to reduce overcrowding in detention centers as a measure to contain the pandemic.