An illegal “rehabilitation” centre – part of an underground network offering “treatments” for drug addiction, alcohol and homosexuality – was raided in Ecuador yesterday (November 7), in a large-scale police raid backed by the Public Health Ministry. 17 people were rescued, including one minor. As victims – forcibly interned in the clandestine “Union and Hope Clinic” – are placed in the care of medics and social workers, fresh torture claims have emerged from the clinics, including the use of electro-shock “therapy” in conditions condemned by the Public Prosecutor as “inhumane”.
Photo: The Union and Hope Clinic – Image Released by Ecuadorian Officials.
The raid puts the spotlight back on the Ecuadorian state’s capacity to deal with what has been described by the Public Health Minister (and LGBT rights campaigner), Carina Vance Mafla, as “a mafia, a network that operates nationally in each of the provinces, which are violating human rights”.
The centre will be the 20th to be shut down in 18 months, as part of a nationwide campaign to regulate the clandestine centres – many of which are backed by local and national political elites.
During the investigation it was discovered that the clinic was owned by the provincial health commissioner. 7 people were detained, amongst them an official from the justice system.
The clinic was situated in Pisulí, 500 km north of the capital, Quito. Since yesterday the building has been emptied and the doors sealed.
Among those released, a minor reports that they were “tortured with electricity to ‘cure’ their behavioural problem”, advised the State Prosector (Fiscalía General del Estado – FGE) via their twitter account.
According to the Ecuadorian newspaper, El Telégrafo, the establishment contained a water trench, supposedly used “to torture those interned”, together with “cables that would have been used to apply electric shocks”.
AFP reports an officer as saying “One victim said that her treatment for alcohol dependence and drugs involved being forced to take off her shoes on a wet floor rigged with an electrical charge”.
“These people were being held against their will, overcrowded, in degrading, unhealthy conditions. They were sleeping on the floor. They had no sewer system,” a justice official said.
The raid took place between 4am and 11am. At the site were found lists of debtors and collection receipts, as well as serums, drugs, cell phones, computers, body armor and property deeds.
Public Health Minister, Carina Vance Mafla, described the issues surrounding these clinics as “absolutely critical”. In 2013 alone, various charges have emerged of torture, corrective rape and psychological abuse as part of regimens used to “detoxify” those interned against their will – often young people, and in many cases LGBT. Two deaths have also been confirmed from the clinics this year.
The centre was discovered as part of a search operation for David Romo, who went missing on May 16 in Quito. One of the young people imprisoned in the clinic claims to have shared a room with someone matching David Romo’s description. The Public Prosecutors Office released a statement last night saying it was possible he was there, although his whereabouts are as yet unconfirmed.
David Romo in Santiago. Source: El Comericio
For more information see:
- IDAHO Committee: New Torture Claims Emerge from Ecuador’s “Gay Cure” Clinics
- Global Post: Ecuador addiction clinic accused of torturing patients
- Latin American Current Events: 17 Rescued from brutal “clinic” in Ecuador