The President of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele, has refused to abide by a resolution of the Constitutional Court that limits the Government’s powers to act during the coronavirus pandemic, arguing that nothing is above the “constitutional right to life and health of the Salvadoran people “
The origin of the controversy is the so-called executive decree 19, issued by the Government last Monday to maintain certain powers after the Legislative Assembly refused to extend the exception regime, which limits three constitutional rights: freedom of movement, freedom of movement peaceful assembly and not be forced to change address.
The executive decree declares the entire national territory “an epidemic zone subject to sanitary control”, which gives the government the green light to declare the quarantine mandatory, and to impose that in some cases it is carried out in special centers, inspect houses and private premises and establish sanctions criminal and civil offenses.
The Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice issued a resolution on Wednesday determining that the Government cannot arrest and thus sanction those who violate the quarantine, according to the Salvadoran newspaper ‘El Mundo’.
The Constitutional Chamber argues that the Government has no power to restrict the rights set forth in the Magna Carta. “Only a formal law,” that is, “a legislative decree and published in due form,” can do so, he maintains.
Bukele responded hours later on Twitter, calling the court decision a “joke.” “No resolution is above the constitutional right to life and health of the Salvadoran people,” he sentenced.
The president argued that the measures included in the executive decree “are powers of the Ministry of Health conferred in the Health Code, which the Constitution does not allow to be repealed with a follow-up resolution of a ‘habeas corpus'”, accusing the high court of “try to cross its own limitations” on “orders from its financiers”.
Thus, he clarified that “the Government of El Salvador will continue executing executive decree 19 one hundred percent.” “All its provisions remain intact. We are going to fight the pandemic and we Salvadorans are going to win,” he settled.
El Salvador, with 164 cases and six deaths from coronavirus, has ordered the confinement of the population, closed borders and suspended non-essential activities. In addition, it has adopted the strategy of “going out to look for patients” to “isolate all its epidemiological links” and thus contain the pandemic.