Ecuador suspends taking genetic samples from prisoners after criticism of the process

The Ecuadorian government has temporarily suspended the taking of genetic samples from prisoners following criticism of the process that arose after an EL PAÍS exclusive, which documented that they were carried out under pressure from the military that controls the prisons and were not properly informed. Non-verbal swabs were being taken. The prisoner instructions are meant to convince them not to consult their lawyers and to conceal from them their right under law to refuse taking samples. Through a statement on social networks, SNAI, the government entity responsible for prisons, confirmed that on February 21 it launched a prison census, where genetic profiles are also taken from prisoners to create a data bank with forensic and humanitarian purposes . Because it is the informed consent of people deprived of their liberty,” the document says. The same document was shared in the chats of public government employees, who were forced to publish the official statement on all social networks and spread it among their families.

The prison census conducted by SNAI began in Riobamba and Cotopaxi prisons, one of the most dangerous prisons in the country, where there are more than 4,300 inmates, where instructions have been given “not to read ppl’s consent conditions.” According to three different sources, neither do they understand them. The registration process continued this Monday the 18th at the Littoral Penitentiary, which has been the site of riots and massacres and where 250 people have been brutally murdered. Prison inmates are housed in pavilions according to criminal organization. This prison center is not completely under the control of the armed forces, which were entrusted with the security of prisons in the event of the emergency order of 8 January. This jail alone has about six thousand prisoners spread across 12 pavilions. However, prison inmates are no longer receiving genetic testing because they were suspended and there is no telling when they will be resumed. EL PAÍS requested information on the subject from SNAI, the Ministry of Government and the Communications Secretariat of the Presidency of the Government, but they did not respond to the request.

Although DNA samples being extracted from prisoners can be used to create a database that facilitates identification in a case of genocide, to control identity theft, they can be used to implicate them in those crimes. Can also be done which are going to happen in future or have already been committed. For example, a prisoner convicted of murder who lends his genetic material may discover that those samples match samples collected in a rape case.

In Ecuador, data protection law gives citizens the right to know about the existence of and access genetic data held in public or private entities. And the use made of them must be specified, their purpose, origin and destination, as well as the period of validity of that database and the authorization each time it is used. The Human Rights Committee of Guayaquil has stated that it will seek information about this practice from the government in order to request an audit of the process and verify whether it has complied with providing information and signing documentation that violates the freedom Supports the person deprived of consent. Deliver the genetic sample.

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