President Guillermo Lasso says he aims to end overcrowding in the country's prisons by the end of the year.

Ecuador's 65 prisons have capacity for 30,000 inmates, but house some 39,000.
Ecuador's 65 prisons have capacity for 30,000 inmates, but house some 39,000. (AFP)

Ecuador's President Guillermo Lasso has announced some 5,000 prisoners would be pardoned to reduce overcrowding in the country's prisons, where prison riots killed 320 inmates last year.

"I hope that at least 5,000 people deprived of their freedom will be released," the president told reporters on Tuesday.

He said he aimed "to end overcrowding by the end of the year and thus have a much more favourable environment for security and for social rehabilitation inside the prisons".

Lasso signed a decree on Monday to establish the conditions and system for pardons.

The effort will target prisoners charged with theft, fraud or breach of trust, local media reported.

The country's 65 prisons have capacity for 30,000 inmates, but house some 39,000, equivalent to 30 percent overcrowding.

Some 15,000 of the prisoners have not been sentenced.

Over 320 inmates died in 2021 in a surge of violence blamed on fighting between rival drug groups in Ecuador, nestled between the world's biggest cocaine producers — Colombia and Peru.

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies