High court approves Noboa’s referendum questions to strengthen law enforcement but rejects others

Jan 27, 2024 | 0 comments

The Constitutional Court approved 10 of President Daniel Noboa’s referendum questions on Friday, including ones that would strengthen the role of law enforcement to combat criminal organizations, but rejected 9 others.

Ecuador’s Constitutional Court in Quito

Among the questions approved, voters will be allowed to decide to: grant some law enforcement roles to the armed forces; to increase penalties for a range of crimes involving criminal organizations; prevent early prison release of those convicted on certain crimes; ban public possession and use of military grade weapons; and allow confiscation of the property of those convicted of crimes.

The court rejected questions that would: change of mining concession rules; allow the president to issue pardons to police and military personnel charged with crimes; allow creation of special police and military courts that would judge members of the police and military charged with crimes; and require a financial audit of judges.

Four of the approved questions involve constitutional changes that require further review by the court to determine the final wording.

According to constitutional experts, the approved questions are the ones that matter most to Noboa. “Obviously he is disappointed by the items there were rejected but he had been advised in advance that several of them would not be allowed on the ballot,” says University of Guayaquil constitutional law professor Gustavo Hamilton.

Following the court’s ruling, Noboa’s legal team did not say if it will rewrite and resubmit any of the rejected questions.

“On balance, he has to be happy that the hand of law enforcement will be greatly strengthened and that the military will be at the service of police,” Hamilson says. “He also has to be pleased that people convicted of violent crimes and corruption related to narco terrorism will not be allowed early release from prison.”

According to Quito attorney Carlos Artigas, Noboa wants to get the referendum to the public as soon as possible. “The review of the four questions and any that the president resubmits could take as long as 20 days, based on the law, and he will want an election date set as soon after that as possible,” Artigas says. “Because of his high approval ratings, at 80% or above, he is almost assured his questions will be approved. On the other hand, he wants to avoid a delay.”

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