Future of criminal code changes are in doubt following chaotic National Assembly session

Feb 23, 2024 | 0 comments

National Assembly President Henry Kronfle said Thursday night he will decide later whether to convene another session to consider legislation to strengthen the country’s criminal code. “After the dysfunction we witnessed today, I may simply allow it to die,” he said after he gaveled the session closed at 1 p.m.”

National Assembly President Henry Kronfle suspended Thursday’s session when tempers flared during debate of legislation to revise Ecuador’s criminal code.

He added: “It’s a shame the Assembly is unable to do its job,” and suggested President Daniel Noboa may be forced to enact tougher anti-crime measures by public referendum.

Debate on the Comprehensive Organic Penal Code degenerated into shouting matches after the full Assembly rejected a proposal by the Citizens Revolution bloc to allow the Assembly, other public offices and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to review criminal investigation files. Opponents claim the measure is aimed at overturning the corruption conviction of former president Rafael Correa.

After other proposals were also voted down, members of Citizens Revolution staged a walk-out. Citing the lack of a quorum, Kronfle ended the session.

Kronfle told reporters later that if he decides to call another session, it will only consider a proposal to vote on the bill in four parts, including the Citizens Revolution proposal. “This will not go back the Justice Commission,” he said. “We have come too far in the process to start over.” The majority of seats on the Justice Commission, which is responsible for reviewing all criminal code changes, are held by Citizens Revolution members.

During the session, tempers flared between the Correistas and Construye members over the intentions of the proposal to review investigation records. “This is all about impunity for Correa and letting him come home, nothing more,” Construye’s Jorge Peñafiel shouted. “We say no to your impunity agenda, no to criminals.”

Citizens Revolution’s Viviana Velo responded, claiming the proposal had nothing to do with Correa, and was intended to review the actions of a “corrupt” justice system. She also claimed that Noboa is “overreaching his bounds” by calling a referendum on issues that should be decided by the Assembly.”

Following the session, Cuenca Assemblyman Adrián Castro said he was “embarrassed” by the day’s proceedings. “Today, unfortunately, was like the old Assembly. I hoped this kind of behavior was behind us but obviously it is not. The people of Ecuador deserve better.”

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