President Guillermo Lasso signed orders Tuesday granting the release from prison of those convicted of what he called “minor crimes” and those with terminal and chronic illnesses. It is not clear how many prisoners the orders affects although a government spokesman said it could be “several thousand.”
According to human rights organizations, Ecuador’s prison system houses 25 percent more inmates than it is designed for.
In the presidential orders, prisoners suffering from tuberculosis and HIV infections as well as those with terminal diseases will be released unless they have been convicted of murder, kidnapping or human trafficking.
In addition, prisoners convicted of most traffic offenses, such as speeding and driving with worn tires, will be released. In a statement, Lasso said it was “regrettable” that those who break traffic laws are imprisoned with hardened criminals. “We will take measures in the future to separate these groups,” he said.
Lasso said other prisoners who committed minor crimes may be released and a survey is underway to determine the details.
In his order, Lasso said his decrees do not forgive fines or reparations the prisoners were ordered to pay.
In his announcement, Lasso said that most Colombian prisoners will be repatriated and serve their sentences in Colombia. “This is an agreement that I reached with President [Iván] Duque during our weekend meetings,” he said.