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In new bill, government proposing that military may enter prisons in critical situations

Published on February 01, 2022

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The security reform, presented by the Government, proposes that deprivation centers become strategic sectors, and under an emergency figure the military could enter to protect them.

The fifth axis of the draft Law on Comprehensive Security and Strengthening of the Public Force, which the Government already presented to the Assembly, aims to improve the management of the prison system.

The central part of the project is in the Public and State Security Law, in which the President proposes a change in article 42 on the regulation of strategic sectors.

Hence, the reform proposes that detention centers be included in this list of strategic sectors.

According to the Constitution, the strategic sectors are those that, due to their importance and magnitude, have decisive economic, social, political, or environmental influence for the country.

The current strategic sectors are:

  • Energy in all its forms.
  • Telecommunications.
  • Non-renewable natural resources.
  • Transport.
  • Hydrocarbon refining.
  • Biodiversity and genetic heritage.
  • The radio spectrum.
  • Water.
  • The defense industry, internal security, scientific and technological research for defense purposes. Internal security.

Security system emergency

Ramiro Narváez, president of the Security Commission of the Assembly, expressed his concern about the scope of this possible reform.

According to Narváez, including the prisons in the strategic sectors would give the Armed Forces a free hand to enter the prisons.

But the latter is prohibited in the Constitution since the role of the militia is limited to sovereignty and territorial defense.

However, the current Public and State Security Law establishes that the Minister of Defense, in critical insecurity circumstances in the management of strategic sectors, will provide the Armed Forces with the protection of facilities and infrastructure necessary to guarantee normal operation.

The security reform proposes to create an emergency figure of the Public Security System and the State. Under this figure, the coordination and collaboration of the military with the Police would be facilitated.

And one of the reasons for declaring this emergency is “when there are serious elements that make it possible to foresee threats of attacks against strategic sectors.”

 Progressive use of force

The bill also proposes to regulate the progressive use of force, not only for the Police, but also for the Armed Forces. The current regulations on this issue do not apply to the military, “despite the fact that the latter do have to use force in those cases that the Law requires (for example, when guarding strategic sectors).”

Luis Hernández, Minister of Defense, attended the Security Commission of the Assembly on January 28, 2022. He was summoned to talk about the other two use of force projects that are in process.

In the session, legislator Narváez took the opportunity to consult him about these new proposed changes, although the initiative has not yet been qualified by the Legislative Administration Council (CAL).

Hernández said that he understands the concern and that the proposal must be contrasted with the standards of the Inter-American Court. And he added that he hopes that during the debate on the norm a middle point can be reached.

Alexandra Vela, Minister of Government, said in a recent interview that with the reform the entry of soldiers into prisons is not being considered.

Although in the same interview she added, “In an open war, where we Ecuadorians face the threat of drug trafficking, all the tools to be able to face it are required, as an exceptional situation.”

Other prison changes

In the Executive’s project, eight other reforms to the Comprehensive Criminal Organic Code (COIP) are being proposed that refer to the prison system.

One of these reforms is applied in article 685 of the COIP, which addresses the internal and perimeter security of prisons. The bill proposes that in cases where police action is insufficient, such as riots or serious crises, the military may enter prisons.

Reforms to the COIP proposed by the Executive
Article Theme  



366.1 Prison Terrorism The typification of the crime of Acts of terrorism in deprivation of liberty is proposed. These are cases when a person keeps the prison population in a state of terror and is punished with sentences of 13 to 15 years in prison. And in case of deaths involved, the sentences range from 22 to 26 years.


534 Preventive Prison The requirements to dictate preventive prisons are toughened. For example, the dangerousness of the process will not be a sufficient argument. In addition, the judge must support his decision without contravening the standards of the Inter-American Court. And this measure can no longer be imposed on those prosecuted for crimes with sentences of more than one year, but at least three.


667.1 Release on Serving Sentence When a person completes the time established in a sentence of first or second instance, regardless of whether there are pending appeals, they will be released. And if the penalty is increased by those appeals, he will have to be arrested again.


668 Place of Incarceration The determination of the center of deprivation of liberty in which the sentenced person must serve the sentence, will correspond to the Technical Agency for Social Rehabilitation.


674 Social Rehabilitation Technical Body The structuring of the body is reconsidered. Now, it will be defined by the President of the Republic through a decree. And it will be divided into three instances: a directory, which will set public policy; a governing body, which will be in charge of the planning, regulation and control of the prisons; and an executing entity, which will be in charge of the management, administration and security of the prisons.


675 Directory of the Social Rehabilitation Technical Body The composition of the directory is joined by the Ombudsman, the State Attorney General, a delegate from the Council of the Judiciary, a delegate from the National Court of Justice, and the General Public Defender. In addition, the president will be the secretary of Human Rights, without the need for a previous presidential delegation.


678.1 Prison Administration The Municipal Decentralized Autonomous Governments may assume the administration of the provisional liberty deprivation centers in their cantons. They can even build new ones.


685 Prison Security In cases of riots or prison crisis, the Police may supplement internal security. In cases where police action is insufficient, the Armed Forces will also support the reestablishment of internal security in operations under the command of the National Police.





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