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  • Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno's executive order calls a

    Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno's executive order calls a "state of exception" which grants the government sweeping powers, and suspends certain prisoner rights. | Photo: Reuters

Published 17 May 2019

This nation-wide "state of exception" decree for prisons effectively gags all prisoners including detained privacy rights advocate Ola Bini.

Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno has issued an executive order that declares a “state of exception” over the detioriorating conditions in the nations prison system. This order mobilizes temporary exceptional powers of the state to intervene in solving the problems, but critics contend that it comes at the cost of civil liberties.

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The Secretary General of Ecuador issued a communique on May 16 informing the nation of President Moreno’s official Executive Decree No. 741 that declares a “state of exception in the System of Social Rehabilitation at the national level" in order to deal with what officials are calling "the emerging needs of that system.”

The order, as written, seeks to put the “full force of Central Public and Institutional Administration entities, especially the armed forces, the national police, and the National Service of Comprehensive Care for Adult Prisoners and Adolescent Offenders” behind the problem.

One of the more controversial statutes included in the law is the suspension of the guaranteed rights of prisoners to correspondence, and the freedoms of information, association, and assembly.

Activists for the #FreeOlaBini movement have criticized the president’s order as a targeted move against privacy advocate Ola Bini, who was jailed on April 12 without charges who had been continuing to correspond with outside groups to call attention to his plight. 

Bini has written several letters from prison that have been published online and which often mis his ideas on technology and privacy with reports on the deplorable conditions that prisoners, including himself, face in Ecuador. His latest note dated Friday, May 17 titled "Compartmentalization" read: "So, that’s why putting 90 prisoners in 17 cells with very little space and sanitation is a good counter-example (of compartmentalization). We keep getting sick because there’s too much cross contamination." 

The government of Lenin Moreno has been widely denounced for recent decisions including terminating the asylum of Julian Assange. Ecuador's former Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño accused him of "savagery."

Ola Bini is being held in preventative detention for 90 days, and he is has been held for 30 days, so far. The executive order issued by Moreno is will remain active for 60 days, which means it will expire around the time Bini is released or charged with a crime.

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