Ecuador: Penitentiary unrest (MDREC017) DREF Plan of Action (EPoA)

Situation Report
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A. Situation analysis

Description of the disaster

On 13 November 2021, a confrontation (the third occurrence this year) in the Litoral penitentiary in the Guayas province left 68 people dead and at least 25 injured (based on official preliminary information). This was the result of riots and clashes between criminal gangs in the penitentiary. So far this year, 320 people have died in Ecuador due to fighting between criminal gangs inside prisons, which has led to deaths inside the penitentiary centers located in 4 provinces (Guayas, Azuay, Cotopaxi, and Los Rios).

There are two factors that exacerbate the penitentiary situation. First, the austerity measure introduced in November 2018 that eliminated the Ministry of Justice, Human Rights, and Cults, which oversaw the penitentiaries, and in its place created the Secretariat of Human Rights and the National Service of Integral Attention for Persons Deprived of Liberty and Adolescent Offenders (SNAI). This change produced budget cuts that directly impacted the prison sector by reducing correctional officers at all rehabilitation centers in the country. Second, the overpopulation of the rehabilitation centers. As of November 2019, the capacity of the prison infrastructure (28,554 persons deprived of liberty (PDL)) was exceeded, with a total of 39,874 PDL according to SNAI. Only four penitentiaries (Guayas, Azuay, Cotopaxi, and Los Rios) out of 53 hold over 40% of PDL in Ecuador. These are the four prisons that are the focus of this DREF and make this intervention essential.