Ecuador’s Constitutional Court has shortened the length of President Guillermo Lasso state of emergency from 60 days to 30, saying conditions do not warrant suspension of constitutional rights for two months. The emergency, ordered by Lasso on October 18 to combat what he described as a “drug-related crime wave,” will now end November 17.
The court also ruled that the emergency should apply only to nine coastal and Amazon provinces where crime rates have shown the greatest increase. Beginning today, emergency measures can be enforced only in El Oro, Guayas, Santa Elena, Manabí, Los Ríos, Esmeraldas, Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas, Pichincha and Sucumbíos Provinces.
In their decision the judges expressed concern about the function of the military in enforcing and investigating suspected drug crimes. “In some cases, it appears that military personnel are acting as a law enforcement agency, which is beyond their purview,” they ruled. “Military involvement should be restricted to operations in which they exclusively fulfill functions complementary to those of the National Police.”
The ruling continued: “The activity of public force by the National Police and Armed Forces must be framed within the standards of progressive use of force and with respect for the human rights of the entire population.”
In addition, the court asked the National Ombudsman’s Office to investigate and report all cases in which the civil rights of those accused “may have been violated beyond the scope of the emergency.”