Supreme Court Strikes Down Covid-19 State Of Emergency In Ecuador: “Civil Rights Cannot Be Suspended Indefinitely”.

Photo: Flickr. Signs of the times in Quito, Ecuador.
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Quito, Ecuador–Ecuador will fight covid-19 without a state of emergency from September 13th onwards. That’s what the mountainous South American country’s Constitutional Court decreed this week in a world first.

From September 13th  it will be possible to circulate freely throughout the Ecuadorian territory; there will also be freedom of assembly or association.

These two rights will be recovered, after the state of emergency ends on September 12, according to Juan Zapata, general director of the ECU-911 Service and a member of the national Emergency Operations Committee.

The Minister of Government, María Paula Romo , said yesterday that no more states of emergency will be issued, after hearing the ruling of the Constitutional Court on the latest decree.

The judges, in their ruling, recall that the state of emergency “does not constitute a permanent and suitable mechanism to face adverse situations of an indefinite nature”, in reference to the Covid-19 pandemic .

The Court ordered the Government , in coordination with national and sectional authorities, to adopt normative measures and public policies to control and mitigate the health crisis, guaranteeing citizens’ rights under the ordinary legal regime.

The Court establishes that a new declaration of a state of emergency “under the same facts and identical reasons is inadmissible.”

The constitutionalist Juan Francisco Guerrero indicated that the Court warns that it will not validate a new declaration of this type, for the same reason that was argued on two previous occasions with its renewals.

Ismael Quintana , an expert in constitutional law, clarified that the authorities must implement ministerial agreements, municipal ordinances, resolutions and even laws to establish limitations that allow to face the viral outbreak.

That, precisely, will be done in this new stage to control the virus.

At the same time, the Government will develop the “Yes, I care” campaign, which was launched yesterday by the authorities. In the presentation of this plan, Zapata indicated that the use of beaches and public spaces and the mobility of vehicles are the responsibility of the municipalities, so local authorities must make decisions in these aspects.

The end of the state of exception does not mean that the emergency has ended, Minister Romo clarified. She explained that it will move to another type of control, where most of the responsibility will be placed on “self-care and self-protection”, which will be encouraged with the campaign I take care of myself.

In addition, companies that provide basic and telecommunications services cannot make cuts for non-payment, while the state of emergency remains and up to two months after its termination ; that is, until November 12. The same term applies to non-eviction due to non-payment of rents .

[This report contains text translated from an article in Ecuadorian newspaper and Web site El Comercio.]


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