Ecuador authorities vow to regain control of prisons amid wave of violence Published duration 13 January 2018
image copyright Reuters image caption Authorities announced the reopening of several prisons on Thursday
After the worst violence of the year in Ecuador, the country’s president says the national police will take charge of the country’s prisons.
The announcement comes as the government opened several prisons after two-year lockdowns.
President Lenin Moreno says at least three security officers and 33 prisoners have been killed so far in violence from last March that displaced thousands of citizens.
Police say it is the worst violence since the country’s 2008 financial crisis.
In his first press conference since taking office, Mr Moreno says the police will take control of prisons on Friday.
He says that all prisoners will be transferred to the national police and the government will guarantee their safety.
However, the country now has no fewer than 14 prisons where some 2,300 people are being held.
The government is in talks with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to restart some of the prisons that were closed.
This represents the latest in a series of moves by Ecuador’s government to regain control over prisons following the worst violence in years.
Earlier this week, the military government said it had agreed with the UN to restore access to the country’s prisons. It was previously unclear if this was going ahead.
After two years of mass protests and calls for the resignation of President Lenin Moreno, the country entered a period of relative calm last month when the authorities began allowing people back into their homes and businesses.
In a televised statement, Mr Moreno promised to restore order and announced a review of security measures ahead of the first visit to the country by Pope Francis on 3 February.
The Vatican has asked the Pope to help with the “recovery of the country”.