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Ecuador-The Penal System





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Ecuador Index

The National Directorate of Social Rehabilitation, a component of the Ministry of Government and Justice, continued to operate the country's penal system in 1989. The García Moreno Prison in Quito and the Coastal Prison in Guayaquil were Ecuador's largest criminal detention facilities. Quito and the capitals of all Costa and Sierra provinces also had municipal jails.

Although the laws called for rehabilitation of prisoners, few facilities had space, staffing, and equipment for education or training programs. One exception, the women's prison in Quito, provided both academic and vocational courses. Some private factories held prison work contracts. All prisoners were expected to work and were paid a minimum wage. One-third of the wages went to the prisoner upon release; one-third to pay expenses while in prison; and one-third to the court to take care of expenses incidental to the trial. During the 1980s, two halfway houses were opened in Quito from which prisoners traveled to jobs and were allowed to visit their homes.

Most prisons were greatly overcrowded, the result of budgetary restrictions and the low priority given prison construction and staffing. As of July 1986, Ecuador had 6,450 prisoners in a system whose total capacity was 2,600. The García Moreno Prison, which was built in 1875 to house 300 and subsequently remodeled to hold 640, held 1,800 prisoners who were forced to share twenty toilets. As of 1988, a new prison was scheduled to open in Quito, which would help relieve existing pressures.

According to the Department of State's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1988, "prison conditions are so squalid and brutal that in themselves they represent cruel treatment." Guards reportedly beat prisoners for disciplinary reasons. Notoriously underpaid, guards reportedly could easily be bribed by prisoners who wanted to avoid punishment, to receive improved living conditions, to secure visits, and to obtain drugs.

According to a report by the Special Commission on Human Rights, unhygienic conditions in the prisons were conducive to skin, lung, gastrointestinal, and venereal infections. Prisons had few medical supplies and only sporadic visits by doctors. Again, the Quito women's prison was an exception to this general pattern.

The Department of State reported that guards at the Coastal Prison often mistreated detainees charged with terrorism or subversion. The Americas Watch and Andean Commission of Jurists group confirmed these observations, documenting various forms of guard brutality and the withholding of privileges, such as exercise, sunlight, visits, and recreation. This discrimination reportedly ended in 1987.

                         *          *          *

A number of studies trace the relationships between the armed forces and the civilian leadership. John D. Martz's The Military in Ecuador assesses both the 1972-79 military regime and the role of senior officers following the resumption of civilian rule. Osvaldo Hurtado's Political Power in Ecuador includes a concise analysis of the military's attitude toward civilian politics and its strengths and shortcomings while in power. The Military Coup d'état as a Political Process: Ecuador, 1948-1966 by John Samuel Fitch, although based on earlier research, contains still relevant data on the leanings and social background of the officer corps. David W. Schodt's Ecuador: An Andean Enigma treats the role of military figures and the military establishment in both the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Human Rights in Ecuador, a study by Americas Watch and the Andean Commission of Jurists, contains much detail on abuses by the police, particularly in the treatment of political detainees, and on prison conditions. The Department of State's annual studies, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, describe the operation of the legal system and practices of the police and prison authorities.

Up-to-date reports on the organization and operational status of the Ecuadorian armed forces are scarce. Considerable information, particularly of a historical nature, may be found in the section on Ecuador in Adrian J. English's The Armed Forces of Latin America. The Military Balance, 1988-89, prepared by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, has data concerning weapons systems in the armed forces inventory. (For further information and complete citations, see Bibliography.)

Data as of 1989



BackgroundWhat is now Ecuador formed part of the northern Inca Empire until the Spanish conquest in 1533. Quito became a seat of Spanish colonial government in 1563 and part of the Viceroyalty of New Granada in 1717. The territories of the Viceroyalty - New Granada (Colombia), Venezuela, and Quito - gained their independence between 1819 and 1822 and formed a federation known as Gran Colombia. When Quito withdrew in 1830, the traditional name was changed in favor of the "Republic of the Equator." Between 1904 and 1942, Ecuador lost territories in a series of conflicts with its neighbors. A border war with Peru that flared in 1995 was resolved in 1999. Although Ecuador marked 25 years of civilian governance in 2004, the period has been marred by political instability. Protests in Quito have contributed to the mid-term ouster of Ecuador's last three democratically elected Presidents. In September 2008, voters approved a new constitution; Ecuador's twentieth since gaining independence. General elections, under the new constitutional framework, were held in April 2009.
LocationWestern South America, bordering the Pacific Ocean at the Equator, between Colombia and Peru
Area(sq km)total: 283,561 sq km
land: 276,841 sq km
water: 6,720 sq km
note: includes Galapagos Islands
Geographic coordinates2 00 S, 77 30 W
Land boundaries(km)total: 2,010 km
border countries: Colombia 590 km, Peru 1,420 km

Coastline(km)2,237 km

Climatetropical along coast, becoming cooler inland at higher elevations; tropical in Amazonian jungle lowlands

Elevation extremes(m)lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Chimborazo 6,267 m
note: due to the fact that the earth is not a perfect sphere and has an equatorial bulge, the highest point on the planet furthest from its center is Mount Chimborazo not Mount Everest, which is merely the highest point above sea-level
Natural resourcespetroleum, fish, timber, hydropower
Land use(%)arable land: 5.71%
permanent crops: 4.81%
other: 89.48% (2005)

Irrigated land(sq km)8,650 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources(cu km)432 cu km (2000)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)total: 16.98 cu km/yr (12%/5%/82%)
per capita: 1,283 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazardsfrequent earthquakes; landslides; volcanic activity; floods; periodic droughts
Environment - current issuesdeforestation; soil erosion; desertification; water pollution; pollution from oil production wastes in ecologically sensitive areas of the Amazon Basin and Galapagos Islands
Environment - international agreementsparty to: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - noteCotopaxi in Andes is highest active volcano in world
Population14,573,101 (July 2009 est.)
Age structure(%)0-14 years: 31.1% (male 2,312,610/female 2,220,378)
15-64 years: 62.7% (male 4,506,908/female 4,636,703)
65 years and over: 6.2% (male 432,144/female 464,358) (2009 est.)
Median age(years)total: 25 years
male: 24.4 years
female: 25.6 years (2009 est.)
Population growth rate(%)1.497% (2009 est.)
Birth rate(births/1,000 population)20.77 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Death rate(deaths/1,000 population)4.99 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)

Net migration rate(migrant(s)/1,000 population)-0.81 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Urbanization(%)urban population: 66% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 2.1% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
Sex ratio(male(s)/female)at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.93 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
Infant mortality rate(deaths/1,000 live births)total: 20.9 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 24.4 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 17.24 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)

Life expectancy at birth(years)total population: 75.3 years
male: 72.37 years
female: 78.37 years (2009 est.)

Total fertility rate(children born/woman)2.51 children born/woman (2009 est.)
Nationalitynoun: Ecuadorian(s)
adjective: Ecuadorian
Ethnic groups(%)mestizo (mixed Amerindian and white) 65%, Amerindian 25%, Spanish and others 7%, black 3%

Religions(%)Roman Catholic 95%, other 5%
Languages(%)Spanish (official), Amerindian languages (especially Quechua)

Country nameconventional long form: Republic of Ecuador
conventional short form: Ecuador
local long form: Republica del Ecuador
local short form: Ecuador
Government typerepublic
Capitalname: Quito
geographic coordinates: 0 13 S, 78 30 W
time difference: UTC-5 (same time as Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions24 provinces (provincias, singular - provincia); Azuay, Bolivar, Canar, Carchi, Chimborazo, Cotopaxi, El Oro, Esmeraldas, Galapagos, Guayas, Imbabura, Loja, Los Rios, Manabi, Morona-Santiago, Napo, Orellana, Pastaza, Pichincha, Santa Elena, Santo Domingo de los Tsachilas, Sucumbios, Tungurahua, Zamora-Chinchipe
Constitution20-Oct-08

Legal systembased on civil law system; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage18 years of age; universal, compulsory for literate persons ages 18-65, optional for other eligible voters
Executive branchchief of state: President Rafael CORREA Delgado (since 15 January 2007); Vice President Lenin MORENO Garces (since 15 January 2007); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Rafael CORREA Delgado (since 15 January 2007); Vice President Lenin MORENO Garces (since 15 January 2007)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president
elections: the president and vice president are elected on the same ticket by popular vote for a four-year term and can be re-elected for another consecutive term; election last held 26 April 2009 (next to be held 2013)
election results: President Rafael CORREA Delgado reelected president; percent of vote - Rafael CORREA Delgado 52%; Lucio GUTIERREZ 28.2%; Alvaro NOBOA 11.4%; other 8.4%

Legislative branchunicameral National Congress or Congreso Nacional (124 seats; members are elected through a party-list proportional representation system to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 26 April 2009 (next to be held 2013)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PAIS 59, PSP 19, PSC 11, PRIAN 7, MPD-5, PRE 3, other 20; note - defections by members of National Congress are commonplace, resulting in frequent changes in the numbers of seats held by the various parties

Judicial branchSupreme Court or Corte Suprema (according to the Constitution, new justices are elected by the full Supreme Court; in December 2004, however, Congress successfully replaced the entire court by a simple majority resolution)

Political pressure groups and leadersConfederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador or CONAIE [Marlon SANTI, president]; Coordinator of Social Movements or CMS [F. Napoleon SANTOS]; Federation of Indigenous Evangelists of Ecuador or FEINE [Marco MURILLO, president]; National Federation of Indigenous Afro-Ecuatorianos and Peasants or FENOCIN [Pedro DE LA CRUZ, president]
International organization participationCAN, FAO, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, LAES, LAIA, Mercosur (associate), MIGA, MINUSTAH, NAM, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, OPEC, PCA, RG, UN, UNASUR, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, Union Latina, UNMIL, UNMIS, UNOCI, UNWTO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Flag descriptionthree horizontal bands of yellow (top, double width), blue, and red with the coat of arms superimposed at the center of the flag; similar to the flag of Colombia, which is shorter and does not bear a coat of arms

Economy - overviewEcuador is substantially dependent on its petroleum resources, which have accounted for more than half of the country's export earnings and one-fourth of public sector revenues in recent years. In 1999/2000, Ecuador suffered a severe economic crisis, with GDP contracting by more than 6%. Poverty increased significantly, the banking system collapsed, and Ecuador defaulted on its external debt later that year. In March 2000, Congress approved a series of structural reforms that also provided for the adoption of the US dollar as legal tender. Dollarization stabilized the economy, and positive growth returned in the years that followed, helped by high oil prices, remittances, and increased non-traditional exports. From 2002-06 the economy grew 5.5%, the highest five-year average in 25 years. The poverty rate declined but remained high at 38% in 2006. In 2006 the government imposed a windfall revenue tax on foreign oil companies, leading to the suspension of free trade negotiations with the US. These measures led to a drop in petroleum production in 2007. President Rafael CORREA raised the specter of debt default and followed through on those threats in December 2008 by defaulting on some commercial bond obligations. He also decreed a higher windfall revenue tax on private oil companies, then renegotiated their contracts to overcome the debilitating effect of the tax. This generated economic uncertainty; private investment has dropped and economic growth has slowed.
GDP (purchasing power parity)$108 billion (2008 est.)
$101.4 billion (2007 est.)
$98.93 billion (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
GDP (official exchange rate)$54.69 billion (2008 est.)
GDP - real growth rate(%)6.5% (2008 est.)
2.5% (2007 est.)
3.9% (2006 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$7,500 (2008 est.)
$7,200 (2007 est.)
$7,100 (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
GDP - composition by sector(%)agriculture: 6.7%
industry: 34.3%
services: 59% (2008 est.)
Labor force4.64 million (urban) (2008 est.)

Labor force - by occupation(%)agriculture: 8.3%
industry: 21.2%
services: 70.4% (2005)
Unemployment rate(%)7.3% (2008 est.)
8.8% (2007 est.)
Population below poverty line(%)38.3% (2006)
Household income or consumption by percentage share(%)lowest 10%: 1.2%
highest 10%: 43.3%
note: data for urban households only (2007)
Distribution of family income - Gini index46 (2006)
43.7 (1995)
note: data are for urban households
Investment (gross fixed)(% of GDP)22.1% of GDP (2008 est.)
Budgetrevenues: $21.09 billion
expenditures: planned $21.35 billion (2008 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)(%)8.3% (2008 est.)
2.3% (2007 est.)

Stock of money$5.907 billion (31 December 2008)
$4.395 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of quasi money$9.383 billion (31 December 2008)
$7.974 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of domestic credit$10.13 billion (31 December 2008)
$8.926 billion (31 December 2007)
Market value of publicly traded shares$4.562 billion (31 December 2008)
$4.266 billion (31 December 2007)
$4.04 billion (31 December 2006)
Economic aid - recipient$209.5 million (2005)

Public debt(% of GDP)25.1% of GDP (2008 est.)
Agriculture - productsbananas, coffee, cocoa, rice, potatoes, manioc (tapioca), plantains, sugarcane; cattle, sheep, pigs, beef, pork, dairy products; balsa wood; fish, shrimp
Industriespetroleum, food processing, textiles, wood products, chemicals

Industrial production growth rate(%)5.5% (2008 est.)

Current account balance$1.194 billion (2008 est.)
$1.65 billion (2007 est.)
Exports$19.15 billion (2008 est.)
$14.87 billion (2007 est.)

Exports - commodities(%)petroleum, bananas, cut flowers, shrimp, cacao, coffee, hemp, wood, fish
Exports - partners(%)US 45.3%, Peru 9.2%, Chile 8.1%, Panama 4.8%, Colombia 4.2% (2008)
Imports$17.79 billion (2008 est.)
$13.05 billion (2007 est.)

Imports - commodities(%)industrial materials, fuels and lubricants, nondurable consumer goods
Imports - partners(%)US 19.1%, Venezuela 13.8%, Colombia 9.9%, China 8.4%, Brazil 4.8%, Japan 4.1% (2008)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$4.473 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
$3.521 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Debt - external$18.11 billion (31 December 2008)
$NA (31 December 2007)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home$16.99 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
$16.31 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad$8.487 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
$10.77 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Exchange ratesthe US dollar is used; the sucre was eliminated in 2000

Currency (code)US dollar (USD)

Telephones - main lines in use1.91 million (2008)
Telephones - mobile cellular11.595 million (2008)
Telephone systemgeneral assessment: generally elementary but being expanded
domestic: fixed-line services provided by three state-owned enterprises; plans to transfer the state-owned operators to private ownership have repeatedly failed; fixed-line density stands at about 14 per 100 persons; mobile cellular use has surged and has a subscribership of nearly 85 per 100 persons
international: country code - 593; landing point for the PAN-AM submarine telecommunications cable that provides links to the west coast of South America, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, and extending onward to Aruba and the US Virgin Islands in the Caribbean; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2008)
Internet country code.ec
Internet users1.31 million (2008)
Airports420 (2009)
Pipelines(km)extra heavy crude 435 km; gas 5 km; oil 1,374 km; refined products 1,301 km (2008)
Roadways(km)total: 43,670 km
paved: 6,472 km
unpaved: 37,198 km (2006)

Ports and terminalsEsmeraldas, Guayaquil, Manta, Puerto Bolivar
Military branchesArmy, Navy (includes Naval Infantry, Naval Aviation, Coast Guard), Air Force (Fuerza Aerea Ecuatoriana, FAE) (2007)
Military service age and obligation(years of age)20 years of age for selective conscript military service; 12-month service obligation (2008)
Manpower available for military servicemales age 16-49: 3,536,602
females age 16-49: 3,559,188 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military servicemales age 16-49: 2,708,470
females age 16-49: 3,165,489 (2009 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annuallymale: 148,010
female: 143,291 (2009 est.)
Military expenditures(% of GDP)2.8% of GDP (2006)
Disputes - internationalorganized illegal narcotics operations in Colombia penetrate across Ecuador's shared border, which thousands of Colombians also cross to escape the violence in their home country

Refugees and internally displaced personsrefugees (country of origin): 11,526 (Colombia); note - UNHCR estimates as many as 250,000 Columbians are seeking asylum in Ecuador, many of whom do not register as refugees for fear of deportation (2007)
Electricity - production(kWh)16.75 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - production by source(%)fossil fuel: 81%
hydro: 19%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption(kWh)9.888 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - exports(kWh)38.53 million kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - imports(kWh)861 million kWh (2007 est.)
Oil - production(bbl/day)505,100 bbl/day (2008 est.)
Oil - consumption(bbl/day)178,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)
Oil - exports(bbl/day)417,000 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - imports(bbl/day)54,190 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - proved reserves(bbl)4.66 billion bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
Natural gas - production(cu m)260 million cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - consumption(cu m)260 million cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - exports(cu m)0 cu m (2008)
Natural gas - proved reserves(cu m)8.919 billion cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate(%)0.3% (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS26,000 (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths1,400 (2007 est.)
Major infectious diseasesdegree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: dengue fever and malaria
water contact disease: leptospirosis (2009)
Literacy(%)definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 91%
male: 92.3%
female: 89.7% (2001 census)

Education expenditures(% of GDP)1% of GDP (2001)








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