Press Release Ecuador Latin America and the Caribbean World

Facing Possible Impeachment, Ecuador’s Prosecutor General Cracks Down on Judicial Oversight Authority

December 14, 2023

Contact: Dan Beeton, 202-293-5380 x104Mail_Outline

Washington, DC — The Center for Economic and Policy Research is concerned by events today in Ecuador. Early this morning, the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ecuador carried out 75 raids in seven provinces against current and former officials, judges, prosecutors, and lawyers, arresting 29 people in total and placing 38 under investigation. Prosecutor General Diana Salazar ordered the raids and arrests as part of the new “Metastasis Case” that she claims is directed against corruption and a “criminal structure embedded in all levels of the state.” 

“This seems like a severe deterioration, part of the destruction of the rule of law in Ecuador that’s been going on for more than five years and that has led to increases in the role of organized crime in Ecuador, and that has made fair elections increasingly difficult,” CEPR Co-Director Mark Weisbrot said.

While corruption undoubtedly exists within Ecuador’s judiciary, at least one of the arrests ordered by Salazar — that of Wilman Terán — bears the hallmarks of a politically motivated prosecutorial decision. Terán is the president of the Council of the Judiciary (CJ), an independent body tasked with oversight and administrative duties relating to the judiciary, including the courts and the Prosecutor General’s Office. The CJ is involved in extending judges’ terms and appointing new judges to Ecuador’s highest court, the National Court of Justice (CNJ), and in recent weeks, Terán and the CJ had been conducting a selection process for seven new judges to fill vacant seats on the Court. While the process has faced criticism for a supposed lack of transparency and alleged irregularities, Terán and the CJ have rejected these claims, noting that citizens will have the opportunity to challenge or object to any candidates. They also noted that the Council of Citizen Participation, a democratically elected autonomous agency, is overseeing the process.

Terán has yet to be charged with a crime but has apparently been informed that he is being accused of involvement in organized crime and murder. His lawyers have said that they will request precautionary measures from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to safeguard his rights. The CJ released a statement expressing their concern regarding Terán’s “arbitrary” detention and stating that the prosecutor general’s actions are “unfounded and violate the principles of the judicial system and democracy.”     

Notwithstanding the potential allegations that the Prosecutor General’s Office may bring against him, it is concerning that Terán’s detention was ordered at the very moment that the National Assembly is considering an impeachment request against her. As leader of the body tasked with overseeing the prosecutor general and holding her accountable for any infractions, Terán would be responsible for providing the National Assembly with relevant information regarding Salazar if the National Assembly approves the impeachment. Salazar’s actions are also concerning given the statements made by the Prosecutor General’s Office in 2022 calling for greater independence from the CJ, which voters rejected in a subsequent referendum. 

“The Prosecutor General’s Office and relevant authorities must maintain the presumption of innocence and respect due process for Terán, and for all the other individuals detained during these raids — and should also respect the independence of the Council of the Judiciary,” Weisbrot said.


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