Published: 13:54, May 23, 2024
Ecuador's Noboa declares new security state of emergency
By Reuters
Ecuador's President Daniel Noboa speaks during a ceremony to officially open voting for a referendum seeking support for new security measures to combat rising violence at the National Electoral Council, in Quito, Ecuador, April 21, 2024. (PHOTO / AP)

QUITO — 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.

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

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.

READ MORE: Ecuador declares 'internal armed conflict' as violence escalates

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 percent 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.

READ MORE: President: Ecuador in 'state of war', will not give in to terrorists

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.