Ecuador declares state of emergency in Guayaquil following bombing attack – The Organization for World Peace

In the city of Guayaquil, Ecuador, five people have been killed and 17 injured following a fresh outbreak of violence by rival gangs fighting for dominance in the cocaine trade in the city. The incident happened on August 14. Witnesses reported that men arrived on motorbikes and threw a bag full of explosives onto the street in the Cristo Del Consuelo neighborhood around 3 a.m. Three victims died on the spot. One was a woman standing on her balcony when the blasts started. The owner of a local canteen and a taxi driver were also killed, while the other two victims later died at Abel Gilbert Pontón Hospital. Damage was also caused to nearby properties, with eight homes and two cars destroyed. The Ecuadorian government called the explosion a terrorist attack.

Following the attack, Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso declared a state of emergency in Guayaquil, allowing the immediate mobilization of several law enforcement agencies, including those dealing with criminal investigations, the fight against organized crime, weapons and explosives and transnational crimes. The state of emergency will last 30 days and will allow these agencies to disrupt meetings in public spaces and carry out inspections and searches of citizens’ homes. Since the announcement of the state of emergency on 15e August, 11 raids and five arrests were made. This is the fourth state of emergency established in Guayaquil.

Wednesday 17e, police reported that a suspect had been arrested in connection with the attack. Speaking about the arrest, Ecuadorian Interior Minister Patricio Carrillo said the suspect “admitted to being involved in the terrorist attack” and had “a history of murder and robbery”. The minister added that the explosion was “a declaration of war against the state” by criminal gangs. Carrillo also said the government is concerned about the ability of these gangs to make homemade explosives, adding “we are investigating how they achieve these capabilities to carry out barbaric acts.” President Lasso simply said, “We will not allow organized crime to try to run the country.

These explosions are not new to the city: of the 145 bombings that have occurred in Ecuador this year, 72 have taken place in Guayaquil. Guayaquil’s gangs are increasingly using violent tactics in the battle for dominance of the cocaine trafficking routes. Ecuador lies between Colombia and Peru (the two main cocaine-producing states in the world) and has become a predominant smuggling route for Europe and the United States. More than a third of Colombian production now goes to Ecuador. The city is of particular importance to criminal gangs as it is home to the country’s largest port, making it a major hub for drug trafficking and the flow of drugs from Colombia and Peru.

A state of emergency is a legal declaration by the government made in times of national threat or disaster. It allows the government to assume exceptional powers, such as establishing curfews, evacuating people, searching private property without a warrant, and travel bans. States of emergency can be used by governments to abuse their power and suppress human rights. Due to the high likelihood of human rights violations during a state of emergency, there are a number of non-derogable rights under international law. These are listed in Article 4 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). These are the right to life, freedom from torture and slavery, and the right to humane treatment, freedom of thought, conscience and religion. The Ecuadorian government must not abuse its additional powers over the next 30 days and must guarantee the humane treatment of its citizens. The state must respect the inalienable rights enumerated in the ICCPR while bringing those responsible for this attack to justice, in order to protect its citizens from future gang-related violence.

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