Court suspends abortion rules while it considers challenge; Lasso makes popular referendum official; Glas released from prison pending case review

Nov 30, 2022 | 38 comments

The Constitutional Court has temporarily lifted some abortion restrictions based on a challenge to a new law passed by the National Assembly. The challenge, supported by women’s and human rights groups, claims that the abortion law is unconstitutional since it denies women the right to make decisions about their pregnancies.

In its Monday decision, the court suspended article 19 of the Organic Law Regulating the Voluntary Interruption of Pregnancy for Girls, Adolescents and Women in case of Rape until the case is resolved.

Former Vice President Jorge Glas

Specifically, the court suspended provisions of the law requiring rape victims to delay abortions until after the crime has been investigated and punished; that requires victims, or representatives of minor victims, to file an affidavit prior to an abortion; and that requires a health examination by a physician who, under oath, certifies that a sexual assault has occurred.

President Guillermo Lasso’s office and the Catholic church are objecting to the suspension of the law, claiming the provisions should remain in effect while the case in considered.

Lasso makes popular referendum official
President Guillermo Lasso signed an executive decree Tuesday to put popular referendum questions before voters in early 2023. On his Twitter account, Lasso announced that “Ecuadorians will decide 8 questions that will improve security, provide better elective representation and improve care for the environment.”

Lasso’s decree follows the Constitutional Court’s decision rejecting two additional referendum questions that would allow the use of the armed forces in law enforcement and provide tax incentives for businesses.

The eight questions that could go before voters as early as February are:

  1. Do you agree with allowing the extradition of Ecuadorians who have committed crimes related to transnational organized crime, through processes that respect rights and guarantees?
  2. Do you agree with guaranteeing the autonomy of the State Attorney General’s Office, so that it selects, evaluates, promotes, trains and sanctions the servers that make it up through a Fiscal Council?
  3. Do you agree with reducing the number of assembly members and electing them according to the following criteria: 1 assembly member per province and 1 additional provincial assembly member for every 250,000 inhabitants; 2 national assembly members for every million inhabitants; and 1 assembly member for every 500,000 inhabitants residing abroad?
  4. Do you agree with demanding that political movements have a minimum number of affiliates equivalent to 1.5% of the electoral register of their jurisdiction and obliging them to keep a register of their members that is periodically audited by the National Electoral Council?
  5. Do you agree that a water protection subsystem be incorporated into the National System of Protected Areas?
  6. Do you agree that people, communities, towns and nationalities can be beneficiaries of compensation duly regularized by the State, for their support for the generation of environmental services?
  7. Do you agree with eliminating the power to designate authorities that the Citizen Participation Council has and implement public processes that guarantee citizen participation, meritocracy and public scrutiny, so that it is the National Assembly that designates through these processes? to the authorities currently elected by the Council?
  8. Do you agree with modifying the designation process for the members of the Citizen Participation Council so that they are elected through a process that guarantees citizen participation, meritocracy, and public scrutiny, carried out by the National Assembly?

Glas is out of prison but it could be temporary
Former Vice President Jorge Glas was released from a prison in Quito Monday night following a “precautionary order” from a Santo Domingo judge. Glas, who was vice president from 2013 to 2017, was serving two eight-year sentences for bribery and illicit association.

Lawyers for the prison system, the Comprehensive Care Service for Persons Deprived of Liberty (SNAI), objected to the release, saying that Glas’ human rights were not violated, as claimed by his attorneys. It added that the case is under review by another court that could consolidate his sentences. In a statement, the SNAI legal office said that it expects Glas to be returned to prison following the review that began in October. “This is not the end of his incarceration and is a temporary measure that applies while the case is being studied,” the statement said.

Under the release order by Judge Emerson Curipallo, Glas must report weekly to officials at the Litoral Penitentiary in Guayaquil and is prohibited from leaving the country.