GENEVA (2 December 2021) – Two UN anti-torture bodies expressed alarm at the ongoing violence in Ecuador’s prison system. They urged the authorities to take necessary measures to prevent the recurrence of deadly clashes and to ensure that those responsible are held accountable.
Independent experts from the Committee against Torture (CAT) and the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) were appalled by the continuing massive violence in Ecuador’s prisons, with hundreds of deaths recorded in recent months, some of which were caused by extreme brutality.
Around 300 people have been killed inside Ecuador’s prisons so far this year as a result of a series of violent riots between rival gangs. In two recent incidents, about 200 detainees lost their lives in fierce clashes in Litoral Penitentiary, Ecuador’s biggest prison (Center for the Deprivation of Liberty Guayas No. 1) in the country’s largest city of Guayaquil.
“Ecuador has the obligation to ensure security inside its prisons by providing appropriate training to a sufficient number of prison officers and developing strategies to reduce violence among inmates,” said Claude Heller, the Chair of the CAT.
The CAT reviewed Ecuador in 2016 and had expressed concerns over the frequent episodes of inter-prisoner violence in the country and made recommendations to the State party.
“The recent fatal events demonstrate the failure of the Ecuadorian authorities to establish an effective torture prevention system in the country. In addition to addressing the problem of overcrowding and ending the detainees’ self-administration of places of detention, the State needs to provide its national preventive mechanism with sufficient resources to enable it to properly function”, Suzanne Jabbour, the Chairperson of the SPT, added.
To support the work of the national preventive mechanism of Ecuador and to provide recommendations to the State authorities, the SPT is planning to visit the country in the coming months. The Subcommittee last visited Ecuador in 2014.
“We remain at the disposal of the Ecuadorian Government and offer our collaboration to address the current crisis situation in the penitentiary system. We stand ready to support the Government’s efforts to improve the conditions of detention in the country and to safeguard the rights of persons deprived of liberty,” the experts stressed.
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The Committee against Torture monitors States parties’ adherence to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which to date has 173 State parties. The Committee is made up of 10 members, who are impartial and independent human rights experts drawn from around the world, who serve in their personal capacity and not as representatives of States parties.
The Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture monitors States parties' adherence to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, which to date has been ratified by 90 countries. The Subcommittee is made up of 25 members who are independent human rights experts drawn from around the world, who serve in their personal capacity and not as representatives of States parties. The Subcommittee has a mandate to visit States that have ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture. The Subcommittee communicates its observations and recommendations to States through confidential reports, which it encourages countries to make public.
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