Farro Case Is Another Example Of Inhumane Detention Conditions

Human rights advocates and the family of Jarick Patrick Steven Farro, a 31 year-old Aruban citizen, are denouncing the authorities of the Dominican Republic for his death in Najayo prison on May 24 from a generalized infection they say was caused by medical neglect that stretched over nearly a year.

As the facts surrounding the case have emerged in the Dominican media, it became clear that the scale of the human rights violations in the Dominican prison system extend to so-called “model prisons”. The Najayo Corrections and Rehabilitation Center where Farro died has been touted for the last decade as a symbol of “a more humane prison model.”

At a February 29 hearing at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) on the human rights abuses in the DR’s prison system, the government of President Luis Abinader included images of the women’s prison at Najayo to downplay widespread violations of human rights in the country’s justice system. 

Director General of Prisons Roberto Hernández Basilio claimed at that hearing that facts and statistics on official abuse of preventive detention, denial of medical care and overcrowded conditions documented by the National Commission on Human Rights (CNDH-DR) were “extreme exaggerations”.

Jarick’s sister, Joselyn Farro, detailed how he’d repeatedly sought medical assistance for dental pain over “more than 11 months” while held under a drug law violation at Najayo. Prison authorities finally provided dental care on May 10, she said, but Jarick was injured in his mouth and throat by poorly administered care that caused a hemorrhage, and antibiotics were not given despite his being briefly hospitalized.

Jarick was rushed to emergency care on May 23, Joselyn reported, and doctors found he’d been improperly treated with the wrong anti-inflammatory medication before he suffered a “massive hemorrhage” and died of cardiac arrest the next day. Diario Libre reported that neither the family nor the Embassy of the Netherlands, from where Aruban citizens also carry passports, were kept informed of his condition by Dominican authorities.

In a media statement, Hernández’s agency repeatedly blames Jarick for his own predicament, claiming he did not provide necessary consent for multiple interventions including the day before his death when the prison authorities admit he was unable to speak.

Human rights attorney Elim Sepulveda insists that in the case of Jarick’s death, the Dominican justice system “has its share of blame, due to the issue of delays added to the excess of preventive detention and full sentences served in non-serious cases.”

Miguel Puello Maldonado of the Office of the Public Advocate pledged to open an investigation into Jarick’s death given the “serious violation of the human rights” of the victim, and that the facts “reflect a lack of humanity on the part of the penitentiary center” that violates Dominican law 113-21 governing the treatment of prisoners.