IACHR Welcomes Ruling from Ecuador's Constitutional Court Regarding Participation of Armed Forces in Citizen Security Tasks

May 13, 2021

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Washington, D.C. — The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) applauded the ruling issued by the Constitutional Court of Ecuador on May 5, 2021, in which it declared the unconstitutionality of regulations relating to the participation of the Armed Forces in matters of citizen security and public order, in light of inter-American standards on the matter.

The IACHR noted that the Constitutional Court issued this ruling in response to claims regarding the unconstitutionality of various legal provisions, including 1) part of Article 11 of the Public Security and the State Act, which regulated the complementary nature of the Armed Forces with the National Police Force in matters of domestic security, and 2) a Ministry of Defense agreement that regulated the use of force by the Armed Forces.

The IACHR noted that the ruling is partly based on inter-American standards concerning the participation of the Armed Forces in domestic security operations and the use of force, including IACHR reports and the ruling issued by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IA Court) on Zambrano Vélez v. Ecuador.

On this point, the IACHR reiterated that maintaining domestic public order and citizen security are primarily the mandate of civilian police forces. The Armed Forces can only intervene in security tasks in exceptional circumstances, and their involvement must be of an extraordinary, subordinate, complementary nature while also being subject to regulation and supervision. Consequently, the legal decision reached by the Constitutional Court of Ecuador constitutes progress on the issue of citizen security with a human rights perspective and helps consolidate conventionality control in the Americas.

The IACHR is a principal and autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), whose mandate derives from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote the observance and defense of human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The IACHR is composed of seven independent members who are elected by the OAS General Assembly in their personal capacity, and do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 120/21