Quito business and civic leaders have filed suit with the Constitutional Court to stop the 268 amnesties granted anti-government protesters by the National Assembly. The suit, filed Tuesday afternoon, claims that amnesty granted to those arrested on criminal charges are unconstitutional.
In an earlier interview, President Guillermo Lasso said his office is also “considering legal action” to reverse the amnesties.
Among parties to the suit are Patricio Alarcón, former president of the Quito Chamber of Commerce, Diego Vivero, president of the Chamber of Tourism, and Andrés Castillo of the Todos por Quito collective.
The suit contends that a blanket amnesty that does not examine individual cases, some of which involve criminal charges such as arson, kidnapping, theft, terrorism and violence against persons, violates the constitution’s intent to protect the public from violence. The plaintiffs are asking the court to prioritize the suit based on the “high level of social alarm” the amnesties have generated in Quito and throughout the country.
The suit insists that its primary concern is with amnesties granted by the Assembly to 60 protesters arrested during the October 2019 protests. “Criminal acts were committed during these riots, resulting in injuries to police officers and millions of dollars of damage to public and private property,” Alarcón said during a press conference at the Court. “Unfortunately, most of these cases are still under investigation and have not gone to trial. We contend that the process should proceed so we know the extent of the criminality.”
Alarcón also said those filing suit are beginning petition drives to recall Assembly members who voted for amnesty.
Amnesty supporters in the Assembly reacted angrily to the suit, claiming it is a “delaying tactic” for having the pardons go into force. “If this suit is heard by the full court, we will insist that international human rights organizations be included in the testimony,” said Assemblyman Marlon Santi. “These would include the United Nations Forum for Indigenous Peoples, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.”
In his interview at the Presidential Palace, Lasso said that his adviser Diego Ordóñez was “evaluating the constitutional ramifications” of the amnesties and would provide a recommendation by the end of the week.