Prisons in Ecuador: President Guillermo Lasso announces the pardon of 5,000 prisoners

Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso announced on Tuesday February 22 that he was going to pardon thousands of petty criminals to unclog the country's prisons.

AP - Dolores Ochoa

Text by: RFI Follow

1 min

Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso announced on Tuesday February 22 that he was going to pardon thousands of petty criminals to unclog the country's prisons.

This decision seeks to improve the security of detention centers where 320 prisoners died last year during several massacres. 

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With our correspondent in Ecuador,

Éric Samson

Detained for theft, fraud, breach of trust, or about to complete their sentence, more than 5,000 prisoners should soon be pardoned to reduce overcrowding in Ecuadorian prisons.

A total of 39,000 people are currently detained, 30% more than prison capacity, including 15,000 who are still awaiting trial. 

End prison overcrowding

President Guillermo Lasso wants to put an end to this overpopulation by the end of the year.

The pardon decree was signed Monday by the head of state, but it is the country's judges who will be responsible for implementing it.

The idea is to keep petty criminals and the youngest inmates away from these gangs linked to Mexican drug cartels who are vying for control of prisons, often very violently.

Emergency work in the cells

As soon as they are incarcerated, prisoners are often forced to choose between the “Chone Killers”, the “Lagartos” – the “Lizards” - or the “Lobos” – the “Wolves” – in order to be “protected”.

The beginning of a spiral that often continues after their release and which the government wants to end.

Guillermo Lasso also wants to improve detention conditions.

It released approximately 23 million euros to carry out emergency work in the cells, to improve the security of the wards and facilitate the reintegration of prisoners.

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  • Ecuador

  • Guillermo Lasso

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