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(Washington, DC) – Honduras should urgently overhaul its prison system to end overcrowding and improve prison conditions, Human Rights Watch said today.

On February 14, 2012, over 300 inmates were killed and dozens were injured during a fire in the Granja Prison in Comayagua, according to local press accounts. Honduran authorities said the fire could have been the consequence of a prison riot or an electrical short circuit.

“The tragic deaths of hundreds of inmates, one of the worst incidents of its kind in the region, are ultimately the result of overcrowding and poor prison conditions, two longstanding problems in Honduras,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch. “Given that Honduras has one of the highest homicide rates in the world, authorities have been locking up convicted and suspected criminals, but failing to address the conditions in which they are being held.”

Local press reports said that the country’s 24 prisons, which have a total capacity of 8,000, currently hold 13,000 prisoners.  Local human rights groups say that prisoners in Honduras suffer overcrowding and poor prison conditions, including inadequate nutrition and sanitation. 

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