Chile begins deportation, repatriation of Peruvian prisoners
Chile began to release some of its estimated 1,700 foreign prisoners with the transfer of 123 Peruvian prisoners from the Acha Jail in the northern city of Arica on Monday.Thirteen of the prisoners are wanted by the Peruvian authorities for “drug trafficking and other crimes” and will face immediate detention upon their arrival. At 11 a.m., the 82 Peruvian women and 41 men were transported in six vehicles with police guards to the Chacalluta border crossing to Peru. They underwent medical checks and agreed to not re-enter Chile for 10 years.
“I am very emotional and very happy because I’m going to see my children,” one female inmate told Peruvian television.
Another group of 14 Peruvians who have been pardoned by the Chilean government are scheduled for release Wednesday and another 122 Thursday, bringing the total number of freed prisoners to 258, the vast majority of whom are being held on drug trafficking offences.“There has never been a repatriation process on such a large scale before,” Chilean Justice Minister Teodoro Ribera told reporters. “It’s historic.”
There have been several legal questions raised about the transfer, as some women were transported to Peru along with their Chilean-born children.
Ribera, however, claimed the move was ultimately beneficial for the Peruvians, claiming it was “a human rights matter as the prisoners suffer from homesickness.”
The releases are just the first stage in a plan to ease the pressure on Chile’s overcrowded prison system.
“It is a measure which helps balance the national budget,” Ribera told reporters, adding that the estimated US$300,000 cost of the release procedure was “minor, considering that the more prisoners Chile has, the more is spent looking after them.”
With a total of 803 foreign prisoners slated for deportation over the coming weeks, Ribera is due to travel to La Paz next week to negotiate the deportation of 458 Bolivian inmates.