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Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance

& Other Ill Treatment

In the early years of the 21st Century, 2000 to 2025                              

Republic of Ecuador

Allegations of police abuse of suspects and detainees continue. The prison system is overcrowded, and some facilities lack basic amenities like potable water. Prisoners risk ill-treatment and threats by guards, and violence at the hands of other prisoners

[Freedom House Country Report, 2018]

Description: Description: Ecuador

CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Ecuador.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Torture by Authorities are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring the moral justification for inflicting pain or inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment in order to obtain critical information that may save countless lives, or to elicit a confession for a criminal act, or to punish someone to teach him a lesson outside of the courtroom.  Perhaps your paper might focus on some of the methods of torture, like fear, extreme temperatures, starvation, thirst, sleep deprivation, suffocation, or immersion in freezing water.  On the other hand, you might choose to write about the people acting in an official capacity who perpetrate such cruelty.  There is a lot to the subject of Torture by Authorities.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.

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2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Ecuador

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 18 July 2021]


On January 14, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) released a preliminary report from its state-sponsored October 2019 visit on reported abuses relating to the 2019 protests. Numerous detainees claimed authorities abused them through verbal threats, beatings with fists and metal truncheons, and forced physical exercises. The IACHR noted that judicial authorities in some cases did not record evidence presented by victims. Local human rights organizations reported that torture continued to occur in prisons, especially at Turi Prison in Azuay Province. On February 27, Azuay Public Prosecutor Leonardo Amoroso stated that contrary to official accounts claiming six prisoners died on February 20 in the prison by suicide, a forensic report (indicating one prisoner whose liver had burst) suggested the prisoners might have died as the result of torture, but he did not speculate who may have been responsible for the deaths. As of October 27, an inquiry request from human rights organizations to the Ombudsman’s Office on the case was pending.

Freedom House Country Report

2018 Edition

[accessed 12 May 2020]


Allegations of police abuse of suspects and detainees continue. The prison system is overcrowded, and some facilities lack basic amenities like potable water. Prisoners risk ill-treatment and threats by guards, and violence at the hands of other prisoners.

Human Rights Watch World Report 2015 - Events of 2014

Human Rights Watch, 29 January 2015 or at

[accessed 18 March 2015]


DISPROPORTIONATE CRIMINAL CHARGES AGAINST PROTESTERS - In April, three women protesting with other mostly female demonstrators outside a prison in Quito against a prisoner’s transfer were detained and charged under the sabotage and terrorism provisions. According to a police report, the protesters had “shouted ‘torturer’ at [the interior minister] and for this reason the minister ordered the immediate detention of three citizens.” The three women spent 18 days in prison before a prosecutor dropped the charges.

Ecuadorian Student Activists File Torture Charges against Police

La Hora, Ecuador Inmediato, 16 Oct 2014

[accessed 21 November 2014]

The parents of the Ecuadorian student activists from the Mejía School who were arrested during protests on September 18 have filed criminal allegations of torture against police. They say police used excessive force and abused the students while in custody.

“I received blows to my back and to my ribs. I was also pepper sprayed, and had water sprayed on my face so that it would sting more,” said Jefferson Rueda, another of the students who is alleging police abuse. “After that they brought me to the detention center and made fun of our parents and mocked our school,” he added.

Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee against Torture

U.N. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment  -- Doc. CAT/C/ECU/CO/3 (2006)

[accessed 27 February 2013]

D. Principal subjects of concern and recommendations

14. Although cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment is prohibited under the State party’s domestic legislation, the Committee expresses concern that the State party has not brought the definition of the offence of torture in the Ecuadorian Criminal Code fully into line with articles 1 to 4 of the Convention.

The State party should take the necessary measures to ensure that all the acts of torture referred to in articles 1 to 4 of the Convention are considered offences under domestic criminal law and that appropriate punishments are handed down in each case, bearing in mind the serious nature of such offences. The Committee also recommends that the bill on crimes against humanity, which include torture, should be adopted as part of the process of implementing the Rome Statute.

15. While the Committee welcomes the adoption of the National Human Rights Plan and its associated operational plans for different sectors, which were drawn up with considerable input from civil society, it regrets that only one of the five civil-society organizations that originally contributed to the plans is still involved in the process of implementing them (art. 2).

The State party should promote the National Human Rights Plan by introducing effective operational mechanisms that permit civil-society organizations to participate in the implementation of the Plan.

16. The Committee takes note with concern of the allegations that at least 70 per cent of the prisoners in the Quito social rehabilitation centre for women and men were subjected during their detention to the excessive and unlawful use of force, including psychological and sexual torture, by criminal justice officials and the police (arts. 2 and 7).

The State party should take steps to eliminate impunity for those suspected of torturing and ill-treating these prisoners; conduct prompt, impartial and thorough investigations; try and, where appropriate, punish those responsible for torture and inhuman treatment with appropriate penalties; and properly compensate the victims. It should also introduce training programmes to resolve these problems.

17. The Committee is concerned about allegations of torture and ill-treatment of members of vulnerable groups, especially indigenous communities, sexual minorities and women, even though these groups are protected by domestic law. These allegations, which also concern the treatment of human rights defenders and domestic violence, have not been adequately investigated (arts. 2 and 12).

The State party should ensure that allegations of torture and ill-treatment of members of these groups are thoroughly investigated and those responsible brought to trial. The State party should also build up and strengthen the system of public defenders to protect these groups.

18. The Committee notes with concern the slowness and delays in the processing of court cases. In Pichincha alone, the Committee has learned, there are over 390,000 pending cases. The State party should allocate resources to alleviate and eventually eliminate the veritable “traffic jam” in the country’s judicial system, and take steps to prevent such jams in the future.

19. The Committee notes with concern the practice of detención en firme, under which the court must, when issuing a committal order, order the detention of the accused allegedly in order to ensure his or her presence at the trial and avoid suspension of the proceedings (art. 2). The State party should foster legislative improvements which will help to shorten periods of pretrial detention, including removal of the concept of detención en firme from the Code of Criminal Procedure. An appeal on the grounds that this form of detention is unconstitutional is awaiting consideration by the Constitutional Court, which is to be appointed in the future.

20. The Committee regrets the allegations that in deportation cases the rules of due process are not fully complied with, and that the functioning of the machinery to prevent individuals from being placed at risk through return to their countries of origin is not fully guaranteed. It also regrets the inadequacy of the machinery to enable the migration authorities to check whether an individual runs the risk of torture by returning to his or her country of origin (arts. 3 and 6).

The State party should adopt administrative measures in all the country’s police stations so as to guarantee respect for due process during deportation, especially the right to a defence, the presence of a diplomatic agent from the detainee’s country and, in the case of refugees, the mandatory presence of UNHCR personnel. The Committee also recommends the organization of training programmes on international refugee law with emphasis on the content and scope of the principle of non-refoulement for migration police officers and administrative officials handling deportation procedures throughout the country.

21. The Committee notes with concern the allegations that a large number of prisoners have been tortured while being held incommunicado. Some lawyers have claimed that they are prevented from talking with their clients in the offices of the judicial police, and even that visits to prisoners by independent private doctors have been prevented. It is also alleged that victims have been denied access to their own lawyers (arts. 4 and 6).

The State party should guarantee the application of fundamental legal safeguards applicable to persons held by the police, ensuring their right to notify a family member, the possibility of consulting a lawyer and a doctor of their choice, the right to obtain information on their rights and, in the case of minors, the right to the presence of their legal representatives during questioning.

22. The Committee regrets that the State party has not yet instituted a programme of training for judicial personnel, the Public Prosecutor’s Office, police and prison staff, including medical, psychiatric and psychological personnel, in the principles and rules for protection of human rights in the treatment of prisoners, as called for by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in its judgement of 7 September 2004. The State party should improve the quality of and enhance the human rights training of State security forces and bodies, and specifically concerning the requirements laid down by the Convention, making use of the resources of civil society (universities, non-governmental organizations, etc.). The State party should approve and rapidly put into effect the national human rights plan for the armed forces. The State party should also, in keeping with the judgement of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in the Tibi case, set up an inter-agency committee to draw up and implement training programmes in human rights and the treatment of prisoners.

23. The Committee takes note with concern of the allegations that personnel of the security services routinely inflict torture and other inhuman or degrading treatment during criminal investigations in the offices of the judicial police (arts. 11 and 16).

The State party should ensure that the allegations of the excessive use of force during criminal investigations are thoroughly investigated, and that those responsible are brought to trial. The State party should ensure that appropriate premises are available to accommodate those detained during the investigation of an offence, with continuous supervision.

24. The Committee deeply deplores the situation in detention centres, and especially in social rehabilitation centres where prisoners’ human rights are constantly violated. The overcrowding, corruption and poor physical conditions prevailing in prisons, and especially the lack of hygiene, proper food and appropriate medical care, constitute violations of rights which are protected under the Convention (art. 11).

The State party should adopt effective measures, including approval of the budgetary funds needed to improve physical conditions in detention centres, reduce the current overcrowding and properly meet the fundamental needs of all those deprived of their liberty, in particular through the presence of independent and qualified medical personnel to carry out periodic examinations of prisoners. The Committee also urges the sectoral subcommission on human rights in prisons to implement the operative plan on this subject, whose objectives include action to follow-up training courses and reports of human rights violations in the prison system which have been lodged by individuals.

25. The Committee reiterates its concern at the existence of military and police courts, whose activities are not limited to trying offences committed in the course of duty. This situation is not in keeping with the international treaties to which Ecuador is a party (arts. 12 and 13). The State party should ensure that the ordinary courts fully exercise their competence, in keeping with its international obligations and the terms of transitional provision No. 26 of the Constitution, so as to ensure the full independence of the judiciary.|

26. The Committee regrets that the State party’s legislation does not provide for specific machinery to provide compensation and/or reparation and rehabilitation for victims of acts of torture (art. 14). The State party should establish a specific regulatory framework to govern compensation for acts of torture, and should devise and implement programmes of all-round care and support for victims of torture.

27. The Committee notes with satisfaction that the State party has taken part in amicable international settlement processes, particularly within the inter-American system, with a view to resolving complaints of human rights violations (including torture). However, these processes have generally led only to compensation for the victims, without proper investigation of the complaints or punishment of those responsible (art. 14).

The State party should ensure that in cases of amicable settlement, in addition to compensation, the responsibility of those who may have violated human rights is properly investigated.

Human Rights in Ecuador

Human Rights Watch

[accessed 24 January 2013]

Corruption, inefficiency, and political influence have plagued the Ecuadorian judiciary for many years. In a referendum held in 2011, President Rafael Correa obtained a popular mandate for constitutional reforms that could significantly increase government powers to constrain media and influence the appointment and dismissal of judges.

Ecuador’s laws restrict freedom of expression, and government officials, including Correa, use these laws against his critics. Those involved in protests marred by violence may be prosecuted on inflated and inappropriate ‘terrorism’ charges.

Impunity for police abuses is widespread and perpetrators of murders often attributed to a “settling of accounts” between criminal gangs are rarely prosecuted and convicted.


From an old article -- URL not available

Article was published sometime prior to 2015

IMPUNITY - The mandate of the Truth Commission, set up in May 2007 to investigate human rights violations committed since 1984, was extended. By the end of 2009, the Commission had heard 700 testimonies relating to cases of torture, enforced disappearance, extrajudicial execution and death in custody.

Cases of torture and extrajudicial executions remained unresolved. Victims and relatives seeking justice and redress were threatened and intimidated.

Police officer Leidy Johanna Vélez Moreira and her family continued to be subjected to a campaign of intimidation by the police which began after she lodged a complaint about a police raid on her home in October 2007. The most recent incidents took place on 23 and 24 January 2009 when she and her partner were followed by police officers. The Vélez family has filed several complaints against the police, including one for the torture and killing of Leidy Johanna Vélez Moreira’s brothers, Yandry Javier Vélez Moreira and Juan Miguel Vélez Cedeño, in Montecristi, Manabí province, in December 2008.


For current articles:: Search Amnesty International Website

[accessed 31 December 2018]

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Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 24 January 2013]

[accessed 3 July 2019]

TORTURE AND OTHER CRUEL, INHUMAN, OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT – While the law prohibits torture and similar forms of intimidation and punishment, some police continued to torture and abuse suspects and prisoners, often with impunity.

In November the UN Committee Against Torture announced that the country's laws on torture do not meet standards set within the UN's Convention Against Torture. The UN reported that violators of human rights often were penalized with a fine, rather than incarceration.

Through December CEDHU registered alleged cases of torture by security forces involving 24 victims. In most cases, the security forces appeared to have abused such persons during investigations of ordinary street crime or because of a personal grudge. The victims reported that the security forces beat them and threatened them.

On March 25, transit police arrested and detained Roland Montoya Chavez for not carrying his driver's license while driving. According to a credible nongovernmental organization (NGO), police beat Montoya on March 25 and 26 in front of other prisoners who signed a statement that they witnessed the abuse. Police authorities detained officer Christian Duque for 24 hours as stipulated under police regulations.

Police academy students accused police lieutenants Javier Proano and Javier Torres of beating, insulting, and inflicting other physical injury on up to 160 police academy students since March. Police authorities decided the accusations against the two officers were false after an investigation in which no students testified.

Freedom House Country Report - Political Rights: 3   Civil Liberties: 3   Status: Partly Free

2009 Edition

[accessed 24 January 2013]

LONG URL   ç 2009 Country Reports begin on Page 21

[accessed 12 May 2020]

A new criminal code in 2001 replaced the existing civil law–based, inquisitorial system with aspects of a common-law, adver­sarial system. However, judicial processes remain slow; many inmates reach the time limit for pretrial detention while their cases are still under investigation.The number of inmates in the country’s overcrowded prisons is more than double the intended capacity, and torture and ill-treatment of detainees and prisoners remain widespread. In late 2008 the Ministry of Justice began to prepare an overhaul of the criminal justice system, including the drafting of a new criminal procedure code.

U.S. Library of Congress - Country Study 1991

Library of Congress Call Number F3708 .E383 1991

[accessed 24 July 2017]

INTERNAL SECURITY - POLICE - STANDARDS OF POLICE CONDUCT – According to CEDHU, the police frequently subjected detainees suspected of political infractions to violence in efforts to extract confessions and information. Common-crime suspects also suffered torture or maltreatment, especially in rural areas. CEDHU reported sixty-nine cases of torture and eighty-nine cases of brutality in 1987 and a further twenty cases of torture during the first half of 1988. CEDHU believed that police abuse was more widespread than these statistics indicated since many cases went unreported. In 1985 and 1986, five persons arrested by the police or the military disappeared and were believed to have died in custody. No disappearances had been recorded since 1986. According to CEDHU, forty persons in 1986 and thirty-four in 1987 died while in police custody. Many of these, including several of the ten AVC leaders killed by the police, were believed to have been victims of extrajudicial executions.

The United States Department of State's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1987 noted that, although mistreatment of detainees was not officially sanctioned, the government of Febres Cordero made no clear statement condemning the use of excessive force, nor were penal actions taken against police or military personnel believed to have taken part in deaths, disappearances, or torture. Upon taking office in August 1988, the Borja administration stated its unequivocal opposition to official use of abusive measures. The Department of State reported that, although some police abuse--including torture--occurred after Borja's inauguration, human rights groups hoped that over time the new president's promises of respect for human rights would have an impact on police behavior.

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Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance & Other Ill Treatment in the early years of the 21st Century- Ecuador",, [accessed <date>]