Ecuadorian Interior Minister resigns following deadly prison riots | Crime News
Patricio Pazmino said the “ irrevocable resignation ” was a personal decision, adding that he was also diagnosed with COVID-19 for the second time.
Ecuador’s interior minister resigned following simultaneous riots in four prisons that left 79 dead.
“It is my personal decision to submit my irrevocable resignation from my post as minister,” Patricio Pazmino said in a letter to President Lenin Moreno, which was made public on Twitter on Friday.
Pazmino, a reserve police officer, said “his leadership at the head of the ministry has been called into question”, without giving further details.
On Monday, the National Assembly called for the dismissal of Pazmino, as well as the chief of police and the prison service.
Pazmino’s resignation came a week after the riots, which Moreno called an outbreak of “barbarism”.
Authorities said the riots were sparked by clashes between rival criminal gangs vying for power, believed to be linked to Mexican and Colombian cartels.
Pazmino said he was also resigning for health reasons, saying he was diagnosed for the second time with COVID-19.
He said it added complications to a serious illness, which he did not identify, but said it placed him “at enormous risk and the impossibility of continuing” in power.
Pazmino came to power last November after then-minister Maria Paula Romo was impeached for using expired tear gas canisters during violent protests in October 2019.
The president declared a state of emergency in the Ecuadorian prison system in 2019 after at least 24 were killed in a wave of incidents.
According to Ecuador’s Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman, 103 detainees were killed in prisons in 2020.
United Nations officials called for “a swift and impartial investigation” into the most recent deadly riot in prisons.
Maximum security areas of prisons mainly house inmates linked to murder, drug trafficking, extortion and other serious crimes.
In order to reduce the number of prisoners during the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has commuted the sentences of those convicted of minor offenses in order to reduce overcrowding.
But Ecuador’s prison system, with facilities designed for some 27,000 inmates, still houses around 38,000 despite the downsizing.