Ecuador has increased to 27 the number of inmates killed in riots in two jails this week that forced the government to declare a state of emergency.
President Guillermo Lasso had issued the order “to mobilise all necessary human and economic resources to re-establish order” in Ecuador’s prisons after violence erupted on Wednesday at jails in Guayas, in southwestern Ecuador, and Cotopaxi, in the centre of the country.
The SNAI prisons management body posted on social media on Friday that “19 inmates are reported dead, one of them by hanging” in the Cotopaxi prison.
Eight inmates were reported killed at the Guayas prison.
Authorities initially reported 22 deaths in the riots, and 57 others wounded, among them eight police officers, one of whom was raped.
Cotopaxi Governor Oswaldo Coronel explained at a news conference that the previously uncounted bodies had been recovered on Thursday night and were therefore not included in the first toll.
The SNAI also said 86 escaped Cotopaxi inmates had been recaptured, without specifying how many had escaped.
The two jails previously experienced violent riots in February, when clashes between rival gangs vying for control of the country’s main prisons left 79 inmates dead in a single day.
Ecuador’s prison system has about 60 facilities designed for 29,000 inmates but is burdened by overcrowding and staffing shortages.
Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Ecuador has used alternative sentences for minor offences as a means of easing its prison population, which reduced overcrowding from 42 percent to 30 percent.
Ecuador’s human rights ombudsman said there were 103 killings in Ecuador’s prisons in 2020.