As part of a new anti-crime campaign, President Lenin Moreno and Interior Minister María Paula Romo claim that Ecuador’s criminal justice system is going soft on criminals.
Meeting with police in Quito, Moreno said his government is working with courts to put more “hardened and repeating offenders” behind bars. “Every day, the police of Ecuador risk their lives to protect the people of this country. What I ask of the courts is that justice is quickly and fairly meted out so that the sacrifices of law enforcement do not go nothing.”
At the meeting, Romo appeared via video link to recount court cases in which she believed criminals went unpunished due to lax enforcement. “In a 2017 operation in Manabí Provice, 11 people were arrested for trafficking drugs,” she said. “The criminals were sentenced but the criminal court forgot to issue the sentences in writing and the offenders went free.”
Among the other cases she cited, Romo described a Cuenca robbery suspect who had been arrested six times and never convicted. “The evidence was there but he was released again and again only to commit more crimes.”
Romo also claimed that courts are often give harsher sentences to police personnel than to the criminals they are attempting to apprehend. “We have the case of police Corporal David Velasteguí who was sentenced to three years in prison for the death of an illegal miner who was attacking him,” she said. She added that she will file an amnesty request for Velasteguí’s release next week.
Moreno said he has “full faith” in the justice system but believes adjustments can be made to better serve the citizens. “What we ask is more rigor and efficiency in the justice system,” he said. “We also ask the system for a higher awareness of the great service that our police provide.”