Assembly gives government temporary authority to allow military troops to support police

Dec 22, 2023 | 0 comments

The National Assembly on Thursday voted to modify constitutional language to authorize the Armed Forces to assist police in some law enforcement functions. According to Assembly leadership, the vote is a temporary measure contingent on passage of a national referendum question within 45 days.

Ecuador’s National Assembly

Former president Guillermo Lasso had asked for similar authority last year, but the Assembly refused to grant it.

The Assembly vote and the referendum question will allow the Armed Forces to assist National Police to control drug trafficking, arms and human trafficking, money laundering and crimes associated with organized criminal groups. It restricts the assistance for what he calls “routine police activity.”

The referendum question will be among several President Daniel Noboa plans to put before voters in early 2024. If approved, it will change five sentences of Article 158 of the Constitution, expanding the role of the Armed Forces.

Although the temporary measure passed the Assembly with 125 of Assembly 137 votes, it was criticized by some as a move to “militarize” the country. “It is a step that takes law enforcement out of the hands of the people,” said Xavier Castro, former official in the Rafael Correa government. “If it is not controlled, it is step toward oligarchy that the people of Ecuador have fought so hard against.”

Castro also criticized the Citizens Revolution bloc of the National Assembly for making a deal with Noboa and the Social Chrisitians. “They should be ashamed of this. For narrow political interests they have abandoned the party’s basic principles.”

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