Failure of the Correista ‘impunity’ crime bill measure is assured as Pachakutik joins the opposition

Feb 20, 2024 | 0 comments

The National Assembly meets again Thursday to decide the fate of legislation to revise the country’s penal code. Assembly President Henry Kronfle suspended last week’s debate after the Justice Commission added a controversial measure that could lead to reviewing and possibly overturning criminal convictions, including that of former president Rafael Correa.

National Assemblywoman Mariana Yumbay

Although the measure appeared to have little chance of inclusion in the crime bill, Citizens Revolution members lobbied the Pachakutik bloc and independent Assembly members for support. On Monday, the proposal’s fate was sealed when Pachakutik and four independents said they would oppose it.

Under the Assembly’s Justice Commission’s proposal, the State Attorney General’s Office would be forced to hand over information in ongoing and previous investigations to the Assembly and three other government functions. The proposal would also grant the Inter-American Court of Human Rights authority to review current and past criminal cases. According to its opponents, the measure was a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” intended chiefly to overturn Correa’s corruption conviction.

The Justice Commission is controlled by the Citizens Revolution.

In her rejection, Pachakutik’s Mariana Yumbay claimed the Correista proposal would limit the functions of the judiciary and violate constitution guarantees. “Our justice system needs total independence and we will not support impunity or meddling in the functions of justice, nor will we support the distortion of the current appeal process,” she said. “Cases under investigation in the prosecutor’s office must remain confidential until their resolution. Any review of past convictions must be handled through prescribed judicial channels.”

Social Christian Dallyana Passailaigue and Construye’s Paúl Buestán welcomed the Pachakutik’s and independents’ support, saying the Assembly would never support unconstitutional proposals.

On Thursday, the Assembly will decide how to eliminate the Correista plan from the crime bill. Among the options are to vote separately on the main body of the bill, which stiffens penalties for criminals and requires that they serve most of their sentences, and the so-called “impunity” measure.

Another plan is to send the entire bill back to the Justice Commission with instructions to eliminate its latest proposal.

Gissella Garzón of Citizens’ Revolution said the Justice Commission will work with the Assembly to produce a “clean bill” but complained that the original proposal had been “demonized” and misrepresented. “The intent was to provide full transparency in Ecuador’s judicial system in light of past abuses,” she said. “If the system has done its job without prejudice and bad actions, why is there so much opposition to reviewing its work?”

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