Ecuador Declares New State of Emergency Amid Rising Violent Crimes

Ecuadorian President Daniel Noboa has declared a new 60-day state of emergency in seven provinces to combat rising violent crimes. Security forces are granted expansive powers amid criticism over human rights abuses. The decree targets drug gangs blamed for the violence.

Reuters | Updated: 23-05-2024 03:21 IST | Created: 23-05-2024 03:21 IST
Ecuador Declares New State of Emergency Amid Rising Violent Crimes

Ecuadorean President Daniel Noboa on Wednesday declared a new state of emergency in seven of the country's 24 provinces, as well as one area of a further province, citing a rise in the number of violent deaths and other crimes in those jurisdictions. The measure will be in force for 60 days in Guayas, El Oro, Santa Elena, Manabi, Sucumbios, Orellana and Los Rios provinces, as well as one area of Azuay province, according to a decree signed by Noboa, who in January declared Ecuador was at war and designated 22 criminal gangs as terrorist groups.

The decree will be submitted to the Constitutional Court, the government said earlier on Wednesday. The court this month ruled that a previous emergency declaration in five provinces was not sufficiently justified, rendering it null. Security forces will be able to enter homes and intercept correspondence in the targeted provinces without prior authorization, Noboa said in the decree.

Noboa blames violence - including the January invasion of a television station

by gunmen and a mass hostage-taking of prison guards - on drug gangs which move cocaine from Colombia and Peru through Ecuador. He has previously used state of emergency declarations to increase police and military operations meant to fight thousands of murders and other crimes.

The government says violent deaths fell 28% in the first months of the year, compared with the same period in 2023, though it has recognized that other crimes like kidnappings and extortion rose. The attorney general's office is investigating

eight extrajudicial killings reported to have taken place during the country's most recent state of emergency, after rights groups warned authorities were not taking steps to prevent abuses.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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