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Death Squads and Prison Protests in Ecuador

According to a note sent to the police in Guayaquil, Ecuador, on April 12, 1993, a death squad called the "Anti-Crime Clean Up Squad" has claimed responsibility for the death of six common criminals and promised the shooting of another seven. The six victims had criminal records and were shot and their bodies dumped outside Guayaquil. In the right hand of one of the victims was a prison release form, in an apparent message about the illegal releases from jail of numerous criminals. Six police commissioners in Quito (the capital of Ecuador) have been indicted for the illegal imprisonment of people to extort money from them, and for the illegal release of convicted criminals.

About 600 prisoners of Quito's jail taped their lips shut in a hunger strike on April 12, 1993, to protest lengthy delays in legal processes. Last March, prisoners held a hunger strike for the same reasons. In the meantime, political disagreements have been keeping Ecuador's 16 high courts from resuming their regular activities. Recent attempts to depoliticize the justice system have so far been unsuccessful.

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