Situation of Human Rights of Persons Deprived of Liberty in Ecuador

 

Map of Ecuador. Image by David Legrand.

Commissioners: José de Jesús Orozco (Presiding), Luz Patricia Mejía, Felipe González
For the State of Ecuador: Jose Serrano, Minister of Justice and Human Rights of Ecuador, Maria Isabel Salvador, Ecuadorian Ambassador before the OAS, Erick Roberts, Human Rights Director of the Office of the Attorney General in Ecuador.
Petitioners: Ecumenical Commission on Human Rights (CEDHU)

Update: On March 29, 2011, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights held a hearing on the situation of persons deprived of liberty in Ecuador. President Orozco started the hearing pointing out that due to financial problems, the petitioners could not attend the hearing, but that they had sent a complete report on the main issues that should be addressed.

The State started its presentation indicating that since 2007, the National Plan of Well-Living has included the protection and promotion of Human Rights in its 9th Objective. Therefore, the State is adopting a new Social Rehabilitation System, overcoming the former practices of social punishment for criminals. The new system also intends to overcome certain abuses of power that occurred in the former criminal system, which was unfortunately manipulated by some members of the Judiciary and by penitentiary authorities.

The main activities that the Ecuadorian Government is carrying out in order to comply with its national agenda for human rights of persons deprived of liberty are:

  1. Creating of the Social Rehabilitation Center for Men II in Guayaquil, and the new Center of Social Rehabilitation in the Provinces of Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas and Sucumbíos. They all are fully operational and allow the State to hold 1500 more people. While this is not enough to overcome the overcrowding in the rehabilitation centers, the State expects to overcome this problem by 2012.
  2. Fostering the career of Technology in Penitentiary Security in the Polytechnic University of Ecuador, in order to develop a system to form and educate penitentiary guards. In June 2011, the State will place new penitentiary guards that comply with the requirements of their post.
  3. Drafting the Protocol for Non-National Persons Deprived of Liberty. The State is working alongside the diplomatic missions in Ecuador to repatriate persons deprived of liberty. In particular, they are working with the Colombian government, since 700 out of 1200 foreign inmates in Ecuador are nationals of that country. This policy also promotes the protection of family ties of persons deprived of liberty.
  4. Promoting the right to work among female inmates, who are currently assisting the State to create the uniforms for all the women in detention. On the other side, men will work on metal infrastructure and carpentry for the State´s national home developing program.
  5. Both men and women deprived of liberty will enjoy the benefits of social security. To this end, the State is working alongside with the Ecuadorian Institute of Social Security so that they can benefit and save from their work while held in social rehabilitation.
  6. The State granted a general pardon to all those persons deprived of liberty for smuggling and dealing small amounts of drugs. This helped the State to partially solve the problem of overcrowding in prisons.
  7. Speeding the judicial proceedings in order to avoid the problem of preventive detention.
  8. Drafting of the New Drug Prevention Code.
  9. Construction of complete medical facilities in Rehabilitation Systems which include surgery rooms. Those facilities will be available to the persons deprived of liberty and their families.

The Commissioners asked:

  1. Is State including a gender perspective in its approach to reforms that Ecuador is carrying out? In particular, Commissioner Mejía addressed the issues of pregnant women deprived of liberty, and vaginal inspections in detention facilities.
  2. Regarding the popular consultation process that will be held in Ecuador in May 2011, will the questions presented affect the issue of overcrowding in the rehabilitation centers?
  3. Does the State have any information on the deaths of persons deprived of liberty? The petitioner addressed that issue in their report.
  4. How is the State incorporating the recommendations of the Inter-American Court regarding the reforms of the Anti-narcotic laws, as indicated in the case of Chaparro and Lapo?
  5. Information about the activities of the public prosecutor and the number of people that have been actually convicted, as opposed to those who are still in trial.

The State indicated that at present 60 percent of the persons deprived of liberty have already been prosecuted and convicted, and 35 percent are awaiting trial.

Regarding the public consultation of May 2011, the State intends to ask the people if they think that the judges, prosecutors and public defendants may be prosecuted and sanctioned for delays in the administration of justice that violate the year-and-a-half statute of limitations for a detainee to be sentenced. Regarding preventive detention, we have reformed it under human rights instruments, in that it may be only applied exceptionally and for very particular crimes. Regarding the issue of vaginal inspections, the State indicated that a Resolution was recently adopted, in which such procedures were forbidden. The State is implementing x-ray and electronic doors in rehabilitation facilities for the inspection and security of visiting relatives.

Regarding the people deceased while in custody of the State, the Minister of Justice has presented a criminal claim before the Public Prosecutor in order to investigate and punish the authorities responsible for such deaths. On the particular cases of pregnant women deprived of liberty, the State indicated that it is working to create special facilities just for those groups, and that nowadays they are held in regular detention facilities but in separate pavilions from regular female inmates.

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