The Committee for the Defense of Human Rights is claiming that Ecuador’s failure to control violence in its prisons could be considered a “an act of genocide.” In a statement issued by the CDH, an international group that monitors human rights in prisons, called last week’s riots “inexcusable based on prior knowledge of dangerous conditions.”
Riots at the Cotopaxi and Guayas penitentiaries left 29 prisoners dead and 53 injured. In addition, six guards and police officers were injured between October 3 and 6.
According to CDH, Ecuador has been aware of “deplorable” conditions in its prison for years. “Since early 2020, almost 500 inmates have died in riots and individual murders in the country’s 36 prisons,” it said. “The government has promised action to change conditions but little has been done and the violence continues. The inaction rises to the level of criminal negligence.”
CDH said the government failed to follow through on plans to stop the flow of weapons into the prisons and to authorize greater use of force by guards and police to control uprisings. “The prisons continue to be controlled by criminal gangs despite promises that this would end,” CDH said.
The statement continued: “The government is unable to protect prisoners unassociated with the gangs, many of whom are serving short sentences for non-violent crimes,” CDH said. “In addition, there is little consideration for the families of the incarcerated, with excessive force used to disperse them when they seek information about family members. Representatives of the press have also been treated with unnecessary force and disrespect.”
Prison officials say last week’s violence followed the murder of Leandro ‘El Patrón’ Norero at the Cotopaxi prison. Norero was a major financier of criminal gangs both in and out of the prisons and was known to have ties to Mexican drug cartels and possibly to Ecuadorian politicians.
Judge rejects Lasso recall effort
Electoral Review Tribunal Judge Joaquín Viteri has rejected an attempt to force a recall election for President Guillermo Lasso. The petition submitted by the Popular Coordination for Revocation claimed that Lasso had failed to “comply with and execute the Government Plan.”
Viteri said that the Coordination committee did not submit evidence to support its charge and that it lacked “a constitutional basis” for its case. Earlier, the application for a recall election was rejected by the National Electoral Council based on objections similar to those cited by Viteri.
Popular Coordination director Kerly Carvajal criticized the decision and said the group is considering appealing Viteri’s ruling to the Constitutional Court.
Assembly considers anti-crime measures
National Assembly President Virgilio Saquicela said Saturday that the Assembly will consider legislation to combat rising crime rates. “We will focus on the situation in Guayaquil and other coastal cities but recognize that crime is increasing in all areas of the country,” he said.
The Assembly has been criticized by the media and some of its own members in recent weeks for its lack of action against crime. In September, it rejected proposals by President Guillmero Lasso to allow a greater use of force by police and to allow municipal police to carry firearms.
“It is clear that the public is demanding action from the Assembly and the government on the issue of crime and we will begin the discussion October 11 to address the problem,” Saquicela said.
Former Central Bank president arrested in Miami
Former Central Bank President Pedro Delgado has been arrested in Miami, reportedly on charges of falsifying his Ecuadorian passport. A first cousin of former president Rafael Correa and a fugitive from justice in Ecuador, Delgado is being held in the Krome Processing Center, west of Miami.
Delgago resigned his Central Bank position in Ecuador in 2012 after it was disclosed that he had lied about his college education, using fake academic records to qualify for the presidency of the Bank. After he moved to Miami, it was discovered he had approved illegal loans to an Argentinian acquaintance. A government request for his extradition to Ecuador is pending with U.S. immigration authorities.