Ecuador’s justice system braces for a significant development as citizens Jhony C. and Jhon D., accused of rape and murder respectively, are anticipated to return from the United States to face trial in the coming weeks. However, this development highlights Ecuador’s persistent challenges with extradition, revealing deep-rooted issues within its legal framework.
The recent extradition of citizens Jhony CBB B and Jhon DLH from the United States marked a rare achievement, representing the first extraditions to Ecuador from the US since 2001. While this was perceived as a positive step, it underscores the broader reality: Ecuador faces a backlog of 35 active extradition requests to the US, some of which date back to 2012.
Among the individuals subject to extradition are notable figures such as former President Jamil Mahuad, accused of embezzlement, former State Comptroller General Carlos Pólit, convicted in connection to the Odebrecht corruption scandal, and Pedro Delgado, former manager of the Central Bank and cousin of former President Rafael Correa, facing multiple extradition requests for various crimes including intentional use of a false document and embezzlement.
Additionally, seven individuals involved in bribery within the state oil company Petroecuador—Juan Andrés Baquerizo, Glenda Meza, Humberto Guarderas, Arturo Escobar, Yolanda Pareja, Ramiro Luque, and Arturo Escobar—are also subject to extradition, highlighting the extent of corruption within Ecuador’s institutions.
The extradition requests span several years, with former President Mahuad’s case, dating back to 2012, being the oldest on the list. Subsequent requests are distributed across various years, reflecting the persistence of Ecuador’s efforts to pursue justice on an international scale.
The extradition process entails a meticulous approach, with the president of the National Court initiating jurisdictional proceedings, followed by diplomatic negotiations led by the Ecuadorian Foreign Ministry. For Jhony C. and Jhon D., accused of heinous crimes, the extradition process is well underway, expected to conclude within one to two months.
CNJ leadership may have been part of the problem
Former National Court of Justice (CNJ) President Iván Saquicela highlighted the significance of the US authorities’ decision to grant extradition, viewing it as a reflection of the growing confidence in Ecuador’s legal system. However, he refrained from commenting on past administrations’ handling of extradition requests, acknowledging the challenges that persist.
As Ecuador transitions in leadership within the CNJ, with José Suing assuming the role of acting president, the nation faces a critical juncture in its pursuit of justice. With extradition requests originating from various provinces across the country, encompassing a range of criminal charges, Ecuador must address systemic deficiencies to strengthen its legal framework.
Upon extradition, individuals return to Ecuador under police surveillance, where they are promptly transferred to judicial custody to proceed with their respective criminal proceedings. This meticulous process underscores Ecuador’s commitment to upholding the rule of law and ensuring due process for all individuals involved.
As Ecuador anticipates the return of its citizens and continues its pursuit of justice through extradition, the cases of Jhony C. and Jhon D. serve as a reminder of the nation’s ongoing efforts to confront corruption and uphold accountability.
While progress has been made, Ecuador acknowledges the challenges ahead and remains committed to addressing them in partnership with international counterparts.