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Video clips: Unofficial or extrajudicial paddlings

With comments by C. Farrell

Five video clips showing CP administered by prison or police officials.

If you find scenes of brutality upsetting, you should not view these clips.

CLIP 1 OF 5: Mass paddling of prisoners in Venezuela

This clip (1 minute 28 seconds) is called "Maltrato por parte de La Policia del Estado Aragua en el Centro de AtenciĆ³n al Detenido Alayon" (abuse by Aragua State police at Alayon detention centre). Prisoners, some or all of whom appear to be youngsters, are being paddled with a bat in a courtyard. They are lying face down on the ground naked. After receiving one swat across the buttocks, each prisoner gets up, pick up his clothes and goes inside. One offender is seen getting an extra whack facing the wall before he is dismissed.

    There is a systematic, "production line" flavour to this, and one gets the impression that it is a routine event. The way in which the recipients take their punishment suggests that they expect it, and perhaps are used to it. One observer has suggested that this is a "welcome spanking" which all new prisoners automatically receive (cf. 18th-century Saxony, where every prisoner was flogged on arrival), but we have no corroboration for that.

    As far as can be ascertained, there is not supposed to be any formal CP in Venezuela, so all this would appear to be technically illegal; and yet it is being done quite openly, so presumably the authorities turn a blind eye.


CLIP 2 OF 5: More prison paddling

A rather similar scene (1 minute 40 seconds) but possibly at a different location. The modus operandi differs only in that the punishment is received in a standing position, facing the wall. Each prisoner comes forward in turn, drops his underpants if he is not already naked, and receives two swats (or, in a couple of cases, three swats) on the bare buttocks.

Towards the end of this scene, a second officer takes over the job of paddling. The soundtrack is missing from the last part of the clip.


CLIP 3 OF 5: Thieves paddled in police station

This 4-minute clip shows two thieves being punished extrajudicially in Venezuela by, it would appear, out-of-control police officers. This sort of thing sometimes happens in jurisdictions where the official legal system is not functioning properly.

The 2009 US State Department human rights report for VenezuelaEXTERNAL LINK: opens in new window notes that the country currently features "harsh prison conditions; arbitrary arrests and detentions; a corrupt, inefficient, and politicized judicial system characterized by trial delays, impunity, and violations of due process" and "considerable corruption at all levels of government". It adds that "reports of beatings and humiliating treatment of suspects during arrests were common and involved various law enforcement agencies".

The first offender receives seven strokes, and the second three strokes. At one point the person administering the paddling also hits the first prisoner's head.

The instrument used is absurdly long. The prisoners stand up facing the wall to receive their punishment, although they are not being kept there by any direct physical means. Maybe a gun is trained on them to make sure they stay in place. Or perhaps they have agreed to be paddled in exchange for not being formally charged and locked up.

Some of those present seem to be treating the event as an amusing entertainment, which lends a particularly distasteful tone to the proceedings. One vulgar idiot shouting annoyingly loud near the camera is pretending to be giving a "sports commentary", I'm told.

See also a Venezuelan blogger's commentsEXTERNAL LINK: opens in new window on this (in Spanish), which shows that a version of this video clip has been broadcast on TV, and describes the case as "police torture" in which a group of detainees were seriously mistreated.


CLIP 4 OF 5: "Punished thief", outdoor paddling

I am now told that the following clip is also from Venezuela and that the punishment is being administered by police. The instrument is a paddle, very briefly glimpsed. The culprit is made to face the wall and drop his trousers to be punished on his bare buttocks. We only see the first swat, and he makes a rather excessive fuss about it, possibly because he has already been beaten up in a random fashion beforehand with a whip (not shown here, because it is only from this point on that it can be described as "corporal punishment").


CLIP 5 OF 5: More paddling of young thieves

It is not certain that this is from Venezuela, but it is so similar in character to the other clips above that it seems likely. The one-and-a-half-minute sequence tips over the borderline into casual brutality at certain points, but mostly it consists of systematic swats across the buttocks with a huge paddle, so on balance it can just about be classified as corporal punishment. For some reason one of these two culprits has to take down his pants but not the other. Note soldiers standing around with guns.


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