Author: Thomas

Ecuador’s government promises to regain control of its prisons

Ecuador’s government promises to regain control of its prisons

Ecuador authorities vow to regain control of prisons amid wave of violence

This article is more than 1 year old

This article is more than 1 year old

The government of Ecuador is promising it will regain control of its prisons as authorities struggle to contain an unprecedented wave of violence that has forced the reopening of many institutions last week.

As many as 815 people have been killed since May 25 in six provinces, according to a count made Sunday by the country’s human rights ministry.

Authorities are facing a surge in acts of revenge and extortion targeting the incarcerated, with gangs demanding money for the release of their victims, sometimes from family and friends.

Inmates have taken over the prison in the coastal city of Guayaquil by using the commissaries set up in some facilities, according to the ministry, which condemned in a statement the incidents of violence aimed at the poor and prisoners.

“The state has taken effective measures to control the violence,” said the minister, Rafael Recorder, at a news conference on Sunday.

“In many prisons, the inmates have formed their own groups to demand money. They have blocked access to the services of the inmates.”

Some 30,000 people are serving sentences in 10 prisons in the country, with another 300,000 in jails or pre-trial detention, according to the ministry.

The country’s prisons were initially shut down after Ecuador signed a deal with the United States to house some detainees at facilities in Florida, but the president, Lenín Moreno, reopened the prisons last week, announcing a crackdown and promising an end to the violence.

Moreno said that security agencies are working with the courts to try to free “thousands of prisoners”. He also said he would address the violence in a national broadcast on Monday.

But the crisis has been exacerbated in recent days by protests that broke out in Guayaquil and other cities on Sunday, with detainees and prison officers joining crowds that burned a local prison.

A video shared online showed a fire-blackened prison that had been overrun with protesters who broke into cell blocks and set the buildings ablaze.

The video showed inmates and riot police being pelted with stones and then fleeing as the prison was set ablaze.

The protest was part of an “unprecedented” wave of resistance to the reopening of the prisons

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