Spanish prison lockdown due to protests

prison staff protest over killing of cook

Spanish Minister of Justice, Gemma Ubasart,. Credit: gemmaubasartg/

Approximately 1,200 inmates in Catalonia find themselves directly impacted by a wave of protest actions undertaken by prison staff. 

This situation unfolded on Saturday, March 16, leaving many prisoners confined to their cells, unable to partake in their usual activities or see their families over the weekend.

A day of unrest

The protests were sparked by the tragic death of a cook at the hands of an inmate in Mas d’Enric prison (Tarragona) earlier in the week, which saw a significant reduction in staff numbers.

This led to the suspension of normal operations across several facilities. Gemma Ubasart, the Minister of Justice, and Amand Caldero, Secretary of Criminal Measures, shared these details during a press briefing.

They highlighted that the disruption particularly affected the youth facility of Quatre Camins and the women’s prison of Wad-Ras in Barcelona.

Affected facilities

In Quatre Camins, inmates faced a day without leaving their cells. Meanwhile, Wad-Ras prison saw 100 women inmates similarly confined since Thursday night. The youth unit managed to operate partially, though two of its modules remained closed.

Leadership amidst crisis

Ubasart and Caldero have faced calls for resignation from the prison staff but remain focused on navigating through the crisis.

Both have reiterated that it is not time for anyone to resign in the Ministry, but have called for the entire team to work to manage the situation.

Furthermore, they assured the public that a detailed report on the death of the cook and subsequent safety recommendations is currently in preparation. ‘If something has to change, it will have to change, but we will have to wait for this information file.’

This incident and the officials’ response highlight the complex challenges within Catalonia’s penal system and the urgent need for solutions that ensure safety and justice for all involved.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.