Truth, Inspiration, Hope.

Human Rights Concerns Grow Over Ecuador Prison Riots, UN Officials

Published: October 6, 2022
Soldiers sit aboard a transport truck outside the Guayas 1 prison complex in Guayaquil, Ecuador, on Oct. 6, 2022. At least five people were killed and 23 injured in clashes between inmates at a prison in the Ecuadoran city of Guayaquil, the country's prison authority said Thursday. (Image: GERARDO MENOSCAL/AFP via Getty Images)

United Nations human rights officials are concerned about Ecuador’s prison violence crisis, they said on Thursday, after yet another riot at a jail in Guayaquil saw at least five inmates killed and left more than 20 prisoners and police injured.

Violence has plagued Ecuador’s prison system since early last year, with close to 380 killed in clashes since February last year, according to the Andean country’s SNAI prison authority.

The violence is due to decades of state abandonment of the prison system, a delegation from the United Nations’ Subcommittee for the Prevention of Torture said in a statement.

The existence of self-governance within Ecuador’s so-called mega prisons, including by inmates belonging to criminal gangs, has led to human rights violations, the statement added.

Ecuador’s government did not immediately respond to the UN agency’s findings.

Two deadly riots rocked Ecuadorean prisons this week alone. The most recent took place at the Penitenciaria prison in Guayaquil on Wednesday, resulting in at least five dead inmates and 18 injured.

At least five police officers were also injured during that riot, authorities said.

Clashes at a prison in the city of Latacunga – south of the country’s capital Quito – on Monday and Tuesday left at least 16 prisoners dead and left 43 injured.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which criticized conditions in Ecuador’s jails earlier this year, called on the government to investigate the riots in Latacunga.

Families waiting for information about their loved ones outside of the prison in Guayaquil were dispersed by police using tear gas on Wednesday night, according to local advocacy group the Permanent Committee for the Defense of Human Rights in Ecuador.

The government attributes prison violence to infighting between gangs over territory and drug trafficking routes.

The prisons house some 33,500 inmates and exceed maximum capacity by 11.3 percent, according to official figures.

By Reuters (Reporting by Alexandra Valencia; Writing by Oliver Griffin; Editing by Bill Berkrot)