• Ecuador

    Overview of drug laws and legislative trends in Ecuador.


    In 2008, the Constitutional Assembly of Ecuador approved an amnesty for ‘drug mules’ who had been caught transporting under 2 kilograms and spent more than one year in prison.

    A new Constitution, approved by referendum in September of 2008, says the following about drug users: “under no circumstance shall their criminalization be permitted nor their constitutional rights infringed upon”. This has opened the door to a reform on current drug laws as part of a broader reform to the Code of Criminal Procedures, which suffered substantial alterations during the political negotiations for its establishment.
    Even though it has not yet been approved, the reform seeks to decriminalize possession for personal use and reclassifies the levels of trafficking, lowering the penalties for small-scale operations.


    The Law on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, better known as Law 108 has been in force since 1990.

    Article 364 of the New Constitution establishes that:

    “Addictions are a public health problem. It is the role of the state to develop coordinated programs for information, prevention and control of the consumption of alcohol, tobacco and narcotics and psychotropic substances, as well as to offer treatment and rehabilitation to occasional, habitual and problematic users. Under no circumstance shall their  criminalization be allowed nor their constitutional rights infringed upon”.

    For the latest news on drug law reform in Ecuador click here.

  • Drug Laws and Prison in Ecuador

    Ecuador has one of the harshest drug laws in the hemisphere. A non-violent drug offender can receive the same sentence, sometimes even stiffer, than a murderer.

  • Drug Laws and Prisons in Ecuador

    Systems Overload: Drug Laws and Prisons in Latin America

    Ecuador was never a significant center of production or traffic of illicit drugs; nor has it ever experienced the social convulsions that can result from the existence of a dynamic domestic drug market. While Ecuador has become an important transit country for illicit drugs and precursor chemicals and for money laundering, the illicit drug trade has not been perceived as a major threat to the country’s national security. However, for nearly two decades, Ecuador has had one of the most draconian drug laws in Latin America.

    application-pdfDownload the chapter on Ecuador (PDF)
    application-pdfDownload the background paper on Ecuador (PDF)

  • Drug Law Reform in Ecuador

    Building Momentum for a More Effective, Balanced and Realistic Approach
    Sandra Edwards Coletta Youngers
    TNI/WOLA Memo
    May 2010

    ecuador-memoIn Ecuador, the Correa government’s comprehensive justice sector reform project includes significant changes in drug legislation. The country has one of the most punitive drug laws in the hemisphere. In a perversion of justice, those accused of drug offenses are assumed guilty unless they can prove their innocence, mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines ensure excessively long sentences and arrest quotas have led to the imprisonment of growing numbers of those at the lowest end of the drug trafficking trade.

    application-pdfDownload the memo (261 KB)

  • Pardon for Mules in Ecuador

    A Sound Proposal
    Pien Metaal
    Series Legislative Reform of Drug Policies Nr. 1
    February 2009

    dlrAt the end of 2008, about 1,500 persons were released who were in Ecuadorian prisons sentenced for drug trafficking. The measure, known as “pardon for mules,” singled out a specific group of prisoners who were victims of indiscriminate and disproportionate legislation that was in effect for many years.

    application-pdfDownload the briefing (268KB)



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