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Montevideo, May 21st 2022 - 06:03 UTC



Bachelet urges Ecuador to follow UNHCHR roadmap to end prison massacres

Wednesday, May 11th 2022 - 07:35 UTC
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The former Chilean President also called for an “urgent” reform of the country's Judiciary The former Chilean President also called for an “urgent” reform of the country's Judiciary

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights urged the Ecuadorian Government of President Guillermo Lasso to take concrete measures to bring to an end the ongoing streak of prison massacres, following Monday's riot at a penitentiary which resulted in 44 inmates killed.

 “I must emphasize that the responsibility of the State for the security of all persons in its custody creates a presumption of State responsibility for these deaths,” said the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and former two-time Chilean President Michelle Bachelet. She also called for an “urgent” reform to the country's Judiciary.

Monday's incident came after 20 other detainees had died earlier this year in a previous riot. Ecuadorian authorities argue this type of violence is related to rivalry between drug trafficking gangs.

Dozens of people, mostly women, were waiting Tuesday for news of their relatives imprisoned in Bellavista prison in Santo Domingo, some 80 kilometers from Quito, where a clash between gangs left 44 dead and dozens wounded, while authorities began to recapture part of the 220 detainees who escaped during the riots.

The Ecuadorian government should consider a road map proposed to it “to guarantee security in prisons, improve conditions for inmates and guarantee better prison management, which includes combating corruption,” Bachelet stressed, as she highlighted that Monday's was not an isolated case. “These worrying incidents underline once again the urgent need for a complete reform of the criminal justice system, including the penitentiary system.”

Desperate relatives of the inmates waited outside the jailhouse to learn about the fate of their loved ones for the second day in a row Tuesday. A witness quoted by local media said the inmates were crying for help, saying they should not be left there to die. They also described the ongoing events as “a carnage.”

In the Santo Domingo riot, 41 inmates were initially confirmed dead. Minutes later the Attorney General's Office updated the figure to 43, and at the end of the day, another death was confirmed. Interior Minister Patricio Carrillo said early Monday that most of the bodies “were exposed and assaulted in the wards and in the cells.”

Most of the victims were killed by bladed weapons in their cells, and then some prisoners used firearms in their escape attempt. Authorities found rifles, pistols, four grenades and ammunition in the prison.

In Monday's riot, which began at around 1:30 local time, at least 220 prisoners escaped from the wards either to save their lives or regain their freedom, and so far only 112 have been recaptured.

Minister Carrillo said that those responsible for the riot belong to the same criminal organization that carried out another massacre in El Turi prison a month ago. According to authorities, Monday's clashes were provoked by the transfer to the Bellavista Jailhouse of some of the leaders of the so-called “R7” group, thanks to a judicial measure.

“These types of transfers are the ones that harm the governance of prisons,” Penitentiary Bureau Chief Pablo Ramírez said.

The Ecuadorian government decreed a state of emergency until the end of June in three western provinces (Guayas, Manabí, and Esmeraldas), the hardest hit by drug trafficking, in the face of violence on the country's streets due to drug trafficking.

This new massacre is the largest so far this year 2022, ahead of the previous one, which occurred a month ago in the prison in the southern Andean city of Cuenca, where 20 inmates were killed and at least 10 others were wounded.

Both episodes have the same rival gangs behind them, Minister Carrillo said at a press conference, with an organization called “Los Lobos” allegedly responsible for the massacres by attacking the dissident group calling itself R7.

Prior to these episodes, Ecuador's President Guillermo Lasso boasted that in the first three months of 2022 only eight prisoners had died in Ecuadorian jails and that intra-prison deaths had been reduced by more than 90 percent over the previous year.

Categories: Politics, Latin America.

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