Citizen council sacks judges on Ecuador’s high court
The Council of Transitional Citizen Participation (Cpccs) voted Thursday to fire all nine judges on the Constitutional Court, Ecuador’s highest court. The Cpccs claimed that the judges had “serious conflicts of interests” and had allowed their opinions to be influenced by pressure from government officials. Most of the irregularities occurred during the administration of former president Rafael Correa, Cpccs said. The majority of the judges were appointed during the Correa administration, which ended last year.
The current Cpccs was granted extraordinary powers over government officials and operations in a February national referendum and has fired dozens of officials, many for alleged corruption, since then.
After the judges have been officially notified of the Cpccs decision, they will have three days to challenge their dismissal.
International agencies want passport rule rescinded
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) have called on neighboring countries and the region to welcome Venezuelans who have been forced to leave their country. The agencies join the Catholic church is asking Ecuador and Peru to rescind orders requiring Venezuelans to present a passport to enter the country.
The UNHCR and IOM said that an estimated 2.3 million Venezuelans are living outside of their country and that more than 1.6 million have left since 2015, most of them in the last nine months.
In a joint statement in Geneva, the high commissioner for refugees, Filippo Grandi of the UNHCR, and director of IOM, William Swing, said they are concerned about the new immigration measures approved in Peru and Ecuador are aimed specifically at Venezuelans. “We recognize the challenge of this massive influx of Venezuelans, but it is essential that any new measures continue to allow those in need of international protection to have secure access and to seek asylum,” said Grandi and Swing.
Alleged leader of ‘narco bus’ gang arrested in Colombia
Colombian authorities arrested a man they say headed the “Cartel de los Narcobuses,” an operation that transported drugs throughout Colombia on public buses. Police say that Jesus David Santofimio Celis is also believed to be responsible for transporting drugs on a bus that crashed last week in Ecuador, killing 23 and injuring 22. At a news conference, a police spokesman said that Santofimio’s may have transported hundreds of millions of dollars in illegal drubs by bus over the past 18 months. The suspect was arrested in the Colombian Amazon city of Florencia but has been transferred to a jail in Ibague, Tolima Department.