On April 12, 2012 the Puracal family along with their legal counsel filed a submission to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment on behalf of Jason.
The full release is available below, and a link to the filling for download here.
American Wrongly Imprisoned in Nicaragua Requests Intervention of United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture
Denied Edible Food and Potable Water for 17 Months
Washington, D.C. (April 12, 2012) – Attorneys representing Jason Puracal, an American citizen wrongly imprisoned in Nicaragua since 2010, filed a petition today to request the urgent intervention of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture and Cruel, Inhumane and Degrading Treatment or Punishment. At the direction of the United Nations Human Rights Council, a Special Rapporteur is an independent investigator appointed to examine cases around the world. Their mandate covers all countries, irrespective of whether a State has ratified the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
Jason Puracal has been wrongly imprisoned for 17 months in the infamous La Modelo prison for crimes he did not commit. He is an American citizen, a husband, a dad and a business owner. International human rights attorneys who have represented Nelson Mandela, Vaclav Havel and Aung San Suu Kyi believe that Jason is an innocent man. Key facts show a clear miscarriage of justice:
- He was accused of drug trafficking and money laundering, but Nicaraguan authorities did not find a single gram of drugs or a single dollar of illegal money to connect to his case. This is in spite of what authorities claim to be a three-year investigation.
- He was also accused of organized crime, but he never met his ten co-defendants, all of whom confirmed they never met Puracal prior to the arrest.
- The trial judge on the case was not a licensed attorney and had never presided over a trial. After the media exposed the judge’s lack of qualifications, he judge fled the country and cannot be found.
- His appeal is being stalled. After more than six months of inaction, Puracal’s appeal has yet to be scheduled for a hearing.
Within two weeks of his detention, Puracal developed an inflammatory condition in his bowels caused by bicarbonates – a chemical designed to stimulate the feeling of fullness – in the prison food. He has been unable to eat the prison food without suffering severe pain. Despite the recommendation of a hospital physician, prison officials have refused to provide him food without bicarbonates. He is entirely dependent upon his family to bring him deliveries of food once per week, but most of it is stolen by the eight starving men who share his cell.
Prison officials have also refused to provide Puracal with potable water. The prison water is infested with parasites, insects, dirt, and hair. He must drink the contaminated water or buy fresh water from a prison store, which is frequently out of supply. Prisoners often attempt to boil water to make it drinkable by using live electrical wires that hang from the walls. On September 9, 2011, Puracal suffered severe first and second-degree burns on both of his legs when he was trying to boil water to make it drinkable. Despite the severity of the injuries, the prison guards represented to the U.S. Embassy that the burns were minor and that there were no blisters. The prison refused to take him to the hospital or allow a private doctor inside to see him. The prison doctor told him not to wash his wounds due to the high risk of infection caused by the unsanitary water supply.
"For 17 months, Jason has been denied edible food and potable water. He is being slowly starved to death," said Jared Genser, managing director of Perseus Strategies and lead counsel for the coalition seeking Puracal’s exoneration. "Such mistreatment amounts to cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, if not torture, under international law."
The full text of the petition is available here.
A campaign to bring attention to Puracal’s situation was launched last week on Change.org, the popular social action platform that was instrumental in the Treyvon Martin petition becoming a viral phenomenon. More than 75,000 e-mails have been sent to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Nicaragua Minister of Foreign Affairs Samuel Santos.
For more information, please visit www.freejasonp.com