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Ecuadorian Ombudsman reports death of inmates

Quito, May 30 (Prensa Latina) The Ecuadorian Ombudsman's Office reported 24 deaths inside prisons and called upon the Government for urgent actions to guarantee and protect the rights of prisoners.

The institution issued a statement describing as critical the current situation in the country’s penitentiaries while demanding the State to comply with the necessary conditions to guarantee the rights to life and integrity of its inmates.

The Ombudsman’s Office identified an increase in the number of inmates who died in prisons, which are currently in the custody of the Armed Forces, after the declaration last January of an internal armed conflict amid a wave of criminal acts.

According to the information released, from February 9th to March 7th, 24 deaths were recorded in various centers due to natural passing away, and in other cases due to violence, allegedly with signs of torture. The institution also warned of the death of an inmate with signs of malnutrition, something that may be a consequence of the lack of food supply in the prisons of Esmeraldas, Santo Domingo, Carchi, Imbabura, Pichincha, Cotopaxi, Sucumbíos and Napo.

Given this situation with food and mistreatment, which human rights defense organizations have been alerting about for weeks, the Ombudsman’s Office stressed that the inmates are in the custody of the State, who must respond to the actions or omissions of its servants if they violate rights.

Ecuador’s prisons are considered epicenters of the security crisis that the country is suffering, which is why President Daniel Noboa decided to militarize them under the state of exception and the declaration of internal armed conflict.

The Government dismissed complaints of rights violations and has closed ranks around the military forces in what the president called a war against organized crime.