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Ecuador: In light of new prison massacre, authorities must address structural causes

Since December 2020, at least 390 people have been killed in Ecuador’s prisons. Following the massacre on 9 May at the Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas prison, in which at least 44 prisoners were killed and 10 others injured, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International, said:

“Being deprived of your liberty in Ecuador has almost become a death sentence. Repeated mistakes by the Ecuadorian authorities in dealing with the crisis in prisons have led to the deaths of hundreds of people. The authorities must address, once and for all, the structural causes of this problem, such as overcrowding, corruption and impunity, through a comprehensive prison policy focused on human rights. All deaths and human rights violations of persons deprived of their liberty must be thoroughly, independently and impartially investigated.”

“In response to this latest massacre, President Guillermo Lasso announced the transfer of ‘six criminal gang leaders’ to other prisons. However, such superficial measures are insufficient to fulfil the authorities’ primary obligation in this context: to protect the lives and safety of thousands of people who are deprived of their liberty and currently at risk.”

Being deprived of your liberty in Ecuador has almost become a death sentence. Repeated mistakes by the Ecuadorian authorities in dealing with the crisis in prisons have led to the deaths of hundreds of people. The authorities must address, once and for all, the structural causes of this problem, such as overcrowding, corruption and impunity, through a comprehensive prison policy focused on human rights

Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International

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On 25 April 2022, a clash between criminal gangs in El Inca prison in Quito left 15 people injured. On 22 April 2022, another confrontation in Esmeraldas No. 2 prison, in Esmeraldas, resulted in 12 people injured.

In February 2022, President Lasso announced a public policy for the social rehabilitation of prisoners, with the technical support of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. However, this policy is still far from being a comprehensive reform of the penal system and the authorities have not yet provided adequate resources to implement it.

In 2021, at least 316 people deprived of their liberty were killed in clashes between rival gangs in prisons. Of the total number of deaths, 79 occurred on 26 February, 119 on 28 September and 62 between 12 and 13 November.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Duncan Tucker: [email protected]