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The Honduras government has effectively given up on rehabilitating criminals and left prisons to be controlled by their inmates, according to a new report.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights said the country’s prisons were impoverished, overcrowded and corrupt.
It called on the authorities to deal with what it called a deep structural crisis.
The report comes after a fire killed some 360 prisoners in February 2012.
Inmates at the Comayagua prison north of Tegucigalpa were trapped in their cells when the blaze broke out.
Government figures show more than 12,000 people in Honduras are currently incarcerated in prisons that were built for just 8,000.
The Washington-based Inter-American Commission on Human Rights said the jails are under the de-facto command of inmates – often belonging the country’s violent criminal gangs – who even set rules and enforce physical punishments.
It also said women share prisons with men and are often victims of abuse.