A Peruvian non-governmental organization blamed the warden of a women's prison in Lima for this week's apparent suicide of a Spanish inmate.
The Drugs and Human Rights Research Center, or CIDDH, said in a statement the Spanish woman identified as T.I.F., who was found dead in her cell Sunday, "had a history of depression and had made a first attempt to take her life" two days earlier.
"The response of the warden of the Chorrillos prison, Maria del Pilar Urquiaga, was to punish her and enclose her in her cell, which may have triggered her subsequent suicide," the CIDDH said.
The organization also noted that in recent weeks the Inpe penitentiary service, which supervises the Chorrillos maximum-security facility, "has carried out a policy of transferring female inmates with the stated objective of reducing prison overcrowding."
But it said these transfers also stemmed from the publication of an interview with an "inmate (convicted of) terrorism," alluding to Elena Iparraguirre, the former No. 2 of the Shining Path guerrilla organization and wife of the group's imprisoned founder, Abimael Guzman.
Iparraguirre told Britain's The Economist magazine in early September that the Shining Path was defeated militarily but not politically.
A Peruvian truth commission's report, released in 2003, blamed the Shining Path for most of the nearly 70,000 deaths the panel ascribed to politically motivated violence in the two decades following the group's 1980 uprising.
Peruvian authorities subsequently moved Iparraguirre from Chorrillos to the Virgen de Fatima prison in the same Lima district on Sept. 13 along with 24 other inmates, citing security reasons.
Iparraguirre, who was known as "Comrade Miriam," was transferred to a new prison because "no inmate can give statements to the media or give any information," Council of Ministers chairman Juan Jimenez said at the time.
The CIDDH statement said Thursday the interview "apparently infuriated Peruvian authorities, who may have taken general reprisals against inmates at women's prisons in Lima," the statement said.
The organization said the transfer process has "been carried out selectively and in discriminatory fashion against female inmates in the country" and in an "untimely, uncoordinated way, with deception, abuse."
According to the organization, this has resulted in "people with different (prison) regimens" being housed at the same penitentiary or "people with life sentences (being placed) in minimum-security facilities."
It added that among those affected were 750 female inmates - 107 of them foreigners and the vast majority behind bars for drug trafficking - who now "are two hours from Lima with basic difficulties in contacting their consulates, attorneys and, of course, family members and in logistical conditions even worse than they had in Lima."
It was "in that context" that the Spanish woman, who had been locked up for drug trafficking, committed suicide on Oct. 14, the NGO said.
The statement said 1,527 foreigners were behind bars at Peruvian jails and prisons in July 2012, accounting for 3 percent of the country's incarcerated population.
Of those foreign prisoners, 260 were Spaniards and 47 of them Spanish women, the vast majority behind bars for drug trafficking, it added.
Spain's consul general in Peru, Andres Collado, told Efe that the Spaniard will be cremated in Lima and her parents will then repatriate her remains to her home city of Castellon de la Plana.
Collado confirmed that the cause of death was determined to be "asphyxia by hanging" and that the prison warden has met with the women's parents.
He told Efe that the Spanish consulate has excellent relations with the Inpe and that it has no comment on the CIDDH's statement.
The Inpe, for its part, said after the woman's death that it had ordered an investigation "to determine possible responsibilities" and expressed its "most sincere condolences to the inmate's family."