Violence in prisons has left 29 persons deprived of their liberty dead and dozens injured, in only three days. The UN’s Subcommittee for the Prevention of Torture has expressed concern over what it deems is a crisis in the penitentiary system, where self-government has fostered an environment prone to multiple human rights violations.
Since 2021, seven mass killings in different prisons have taken place in Ecuador. While the government argues that violence between gangs in prison has been a main contributing factor to this, lack of effective government policy to address this issue has been widely criticized.
A state of emergency decreed in August has been extended in several regions until October. On 1 November, a curfew was established in the Guayas and Esmeralda regions, in response to a new wave of violence linked to the transfer of prisoners.
Women’s protests against gender-based violence took place in the aftermath of the femicide of lawyer Maria Belen Bernal, whose police officer husband is currently the main suspect. So far in 2022, 206 women have been victims of femicide in Ecuador.
In the aftermath of such femicide, and because it is believed that the alleged perpetrator fled justice due to negligence within the police, the Interior Minister was replaced and high-ranking members of the police have been asked to resign.
From 14 August President Guillermo Lasso declared a State of Emergency in Guayaquil, due to a wave of violence attributed to organized crime. That day, an explosion killed five people, injuring at least 17 more. The government has condemned this action as a ‘declaration of war’ by gangs and organized crime that have intensified violent activities. Temporary suspension of rights through the State of Emergency would enable authorities to carry out searches and disperse reunions.