Blog of the International Journal of Constitutional Law and

Ecuador After Rafael Correa: A Re-Engagement with Liberal Constitutionalism? (I-CONnect Column)

Javier Couso, Universidad Diego Portales

[Editor’s note: This is one of our biweekly I-CONnect columns. Columns, while scholarly in accordance with the tone of the blog and about the same length as a normal blog post, are a bit more “op-ed” in nature than standard posts. For more information about our four columnists for 2017, see here.]


A few weeks ago, on May 24th, Ecuador’s new President, Lenín Moreno, took over from Rafael Correa (who had been in power for over ten years). Although coming from the same political party, ‘Alianza PAIS’, and in spite of fears that Correa would continue to held power from the backstage, the first actions by Moreno suggest that he will be his own self as a President, something which, in turn, might change the dynamic that has characterized Ecuador’s political and constitutional process over the last decade, perhaps even turning away from the illiberal concentration of power around the Executive branch, which was one of the Correa government’s key features.

Of course, it would be a profound mistake to think that the extremely complex social, political and constitutional process experienced by Ecuador since 2007 can be fundamentally altered by the substitution of one individual by another as the head of state but, in this case, there are reasons to believe that the arrival of Moreno to the Presidency might change the dynamics –and even direction— of Ecuador’s experiment with radical democracy.


As observers of the Latin American region know well, soon after his surprising election as President (in 2007), Rafael Correa aligned himself with the so-called ‘Bolivarian’ movement, a regional initiative launched in the mid 2000s by Hugo Chávez and Fidel Castro, which aimed at spreading radical left politics in Latin America. The Bolivarian movement, which included a so-called ‘new constitutionalism’ advocating for the concentration of power around the Executive branch and the curtailment of independent media outlets, reached its peak around 2010, when many Latin Americans felt that the pair liberal constitutionalism/free markets had failed to deliver its promises of freedom and economic well-being.

In the case of Ecuador, the Constitution of 2008 represented an effort by Correa’s government to launch a new era, one in which a corrupted economic and political elite maintained more than a third of the country’s population below the poverty line, while enriching themselves through corruption. The new constitutional practice was unashamedly illiberal with the justification that, in order to confront the large multinational corporations that had traditionally run most aspects of Ecuador’s politics, economics and society, the government had to be given very strong powers.

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Published on June 21, 2017
Author:          Filed under: Analysis

What’s New in Public Law

Mohamed Abdelaal, Assistant Professor, Alexandria University Faculty of Law

In this weekly feature, I-CONnect publishes a curated reading list of developments in public law. “Developments” may include a selection of links to news, high court decisions, new or recent scholarly books and articles, and blog posts from around the public law blogosphere.

To submit relevant developments for our weekly feature on “What’s New in Public Law,” please email

Developments in Constitutional Courts

  1. The US Supreme Court ruled that a law that gives birthright citizenship preference to children of unwed mothers over unwed fathers is unconstitutional.
  2. The US Supreme Court struck down part of a federal law that denies trademark protection of terms that disparage living or dead,
  3. The US Supreme Court will decide whether electoral maps drawn deliberately to favor a particular political party are constitutional.
  4. The Supreme Court of Venezuela denied the chief prosecutor’s motion to stop President Nicolas Maduro’s attempt to rewrite the Constitution.
  5. The German Federal Constitutional Court reportedly stayed the ratification of the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court (UPC).
  6. The High Court of Justice of Israel held that the state has nine months to ensure that all of the country’s prisoners have at least three square meters of living space within nine months and at least 4.5 square meters within 18 months

In the News

  1. The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine (Parliament) sends a bill on the Constitutional Court for a revision.
  2. Former Indonesian Constitutional Court justice Patrialis Akbar was indicted for bribery in connection with a request for a judicial review.
  3. People in Mali protest against a constitutional reform that would allow the president to appoint a third of future senators, presidents of the Constitutional Court and Supreme Court.
  4. The Parliament of Hungary approved a new law on foreign-funded NGOs.
  5. The National Diet of Japan passed a controversial conspiracy law.
  6. The Parliament of Egypt approves a treaty to transfer two red sea islands to Saudi Arabia.
  7. The Samoan Parliament passed a constitutional amendment to transform the country from a secular to a Christian state.
  8. The Irish government considers holding a referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution that protects the equal right to life of the mother and unborn child.
  9. The United Human Rights Committee ruled that Ireland’s abortion law violates human rights. Although, under the country’s 2013 Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act abortions may be provided if a mother’s live is in immediate danger

New Scholarship

  1. Cormac S. Mac Amhlaigh, The Anatomy of Constitutional Pluralism in the European Union, in Gareth Davies & Matej Avbelj, Research Handbook on Pluralism and EU Law (Edward Elgar, 2017) (discussing constitutional pluralism as a model for understanding interactions between state law and the law of the European Union and a particularly puzzling lack of crisis therein)
  2. Roberto Niembro Ortega, Conceptualizing authoritarian constitutionalism, 49 Verfassung und Recht in Übersee (2016) (proposing a different understanding of authoritarian constitutionalism)
  3. Sean Molloy, Sub-State Constitutions in Fragile and Conflict-Affected Settings, Kimana Zulueta-Fülscher and Asanga Welikala (eds.) (2017) (examining sub-state constitutions in fragile and conflict-affected settings employing a qualitative comparative framework)
  4. Antonia Baraggia and Maria Elena Gennusa, Intertwined but Different: The Heterologous In Vitro Fertilization Case before the European Court of Human Rights and the Italian Constitutional Court, 9 Perspectives on Federalism (2017) (addressing the issues of overlapping human rights protection systems in an analysis of the heterologous in vitro fertilization case, wherein the Strasbourg Court and the Italian Constitutional Court delivered relevant judgments on very similar matters)
  5. Kevin Crow and Lina Lorenzoni, International Corporate Obligations, Human Rights, and the Urbaser Standard: Breaking New Ground?, 35 Boston University International Law Journal (forthcoming 2018) (examining the implications of the recent ICSID Tribunal Award in Urbaser v. Argentina for international arbitral practice)
  6. Andras L. Pap, Ethno-racial identity (politics) by law: “Fraud” and “choice”, The Journal of Nationalism and Ethnicity (2017) (exploring the conceptualization of ethno-racial identity in social sciences and humanities and looking at how law reacts to these paradigm shifts)
  7. Torben Spaak, Legal Positivism, Conventionalism, and the Normativity of Law (2017) (investigating whether we can account for the normativity of law within the framework of legal positivism and whether the idea of a social convention can help in this endeavor)
  8. Jan-Baptist Lemaire, We the politicians? A comparative analysis of democratic constitution-making in the European Union and Belgium (2017) (assessing the processes of constitutional amendment in Belgium and the EU)
  9. Hao Jiang, Does Fairness Matter and Does a Materiality Requirement Achieve Fairness? ― Business as Usual in Approving Disclosure Settlement Post-Trulia (2017) (arguing that fairness remains the only criteria for the court to approve class action non-monetary form of settlements)
  10. Leila N. Sadat, Whither Human Rights in the Era of Trump, 35 Netherlands Quarterly of Human Rights (2017) (cataloging some of the early actions of the Trump administration to discern its approach to human rights)

Call for Papers

  1. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Italian Republic offers seven scholarships for Italian nationals in one of the European Law and Governance School Postgraduate Programs. The scholarship covers the 2017/18 tuition fee.
  2. The WZB Berlin Social Science Center invites applications for one of the positions in the Project Group “International Citizenship Law” led by Professor Liav Orgad: a Research Associate in the field of Naturalization Law and Policy: A Global Perspective” (apply by July 1, 2017); a Research Fellow/Ph.D. Candidate in International Law and Governance of Citizenship (by July 31 ).
  3. The Duke Journal of Constitutional Law and Public Policy invites submissions for a Symposium on amending the Constitution, to be held at Duke University School of Law on February 2, 2018.
  4. Masaryk University Faculty of Law hosts an international conference on Alternative Methods of Argumentation in Law. The abstract submission deadline is July 31, 207.
  5. The Indian Constitutional Law Review invites submissions for its new volume. The submission  deadline is is July 2, 2017.
  6. The International Journal of Legal Research and Governance invites submissions for its new volume. The deadline for submission of papers is 30 June, 2017.
  7. The Italian Law Journal invites submission for its new volume on the theme “Italian corporate law in the context of a globalized world.”

Elsewhere on Blogs

  1. Colin PA Jones, Conspiracy theory becomes frightening reality for Japan, The Japan Times
  2. Muhammad Zubair, Mainstreaming Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA): Constitutional and Legal Reforms, ConstitutionNet
  3. Jack M. Balkin, Trumping the Constitution, Balkinization
  4. Jud Mathews, More Emolument Trouble For President Trump?, Verfassungsblog
  5. David R. Cameron, After election disaster, UK more likely to seek a softer Brexit, Yale MacMillan Center
  6. Mark Elliot, Strong and Stable? The British Constitution and the 2017 General Election, Public Law for Everyone
  7. Mairead Enright, Ireland’s Failing Abortion Law: Statutory Interpretation, Human Rights and the Detention of Pregnant Children, Human Rights in Ireland
  8. Liora Lazarus, Do Human Rights Impede Effective Counterterrorism?, UK Constitutional Law Association
  9. Karin Loevy, The Far Reaching Constitutional Context of the Manchester Arena Terrorist Attack, Blog of the IACL, AIDC
  10. Thomas Hirse and Paetrick Sakowski, More bad news for the European Unitary Patent: The Federal Constitutional Court pro-visionally stops transposition laws, Lexology
  11. Pierre de Vos, Gigaba and Gupta citizenship: several ethical and legal questions remain unanswered, Constitutionally Speaking
  12. Dylan Lino, The Uluru Statement: Towards Federalism with First Nations, AUSPUBLAW
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Published on June 19, 2017
Author:          Filed under: Developments

Conference Report–“Constitutional Responses to the Crisis of Representation and Oligarchic Democracy”

Elliot Bulmer and Ellen Hubbard, International IDEA

On 30-31 May 2017, the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (Int. IDEA) hosted a Workshop on ‘Constitutional Responses to the Crisis of Representation and Oligarchic Democracy’ (CR2OD), held at the Hague Institute for Global Justice.

The workshop was part of a wider International IDEA project examining the apparent crisis of representation in established and consolidating democracies during this ‘new gilded age’ of rising inequalities of wealth. Participants addressed the issue that although modern liberal democracies have constitutions and free popular elections, these democratic institutions over time have become dominated by a wealthy, elite class. This can produce a hybrid regime-type, which for the purposes of this workshop was defined as ‘oligarchic democracy’.

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Published on June 16, 2017
Author:          Filed under: Developments

Save the Date–I-CONnect Happy Hour at ICON-S in Copenhagen–Thursday, July 6, 6pm-7pm at Llama

Tom Ginsburg, David Landau and Richard Albert invite friends of I-CONnect to a happy hour at the ICON-S 2017 Conference in Copenhagen.

All are welcome on Thursday, July 6, from 6:00pm to 7:00pm at Llama, located at Lille Kongensgade 14 1074 København K, within close walking distance from the University of Copenhagen where ICON-S will be held.

The I-CONnect co-editors look forward to seeing you there!

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Published on June 15, 2017
Author:          Filed under: Developments

Call for Papers–Younger Scholars Forum in Comparative Law–XXth International Congress–Fukuoka, Japan–July 25, 2018


Call for Papers

Younger Scholars Forum in Comparative Law
XXth International Congress 2018
International Academy of Comparative Law
Fukuoka, Japan
July 25, 2018


We invite younger scholars to participate in the first-ever Younger Scholars Forum in Comparative Law, to be held in Fukuoka, Japan on Wednesday, July 25, 2018, from 9:00am to 12:00pm as part of the larger quadrennial Congress of Comparative Law organized by the International Academy of Comparative Law (IACL).

Abstracts are invited for eight (8) Workshops and one (1) TED-style Speakers’ Corner. All nine sessions will be held concurrently from 9:00am to 12:00pm on the day of the Forum. More details follow below on the subject-matter of each Workshop and on the format of the Speakers’ Corner.

Abstracts may be submitted in either English or French, the two official languages of the IACL.

The Congress

The IACL hosts a general Congress of Comparative Law every four years. It is the premiere gathering for scholars of comparative law. It is a “general” Congress because scholars of all fields attend and participate in Workshops on specific subjects that span the broad range of private and public law. To learn more about the IACL, here is its website: And here is a description of the IACL itself:

The Younger Scholars Forum in Comparative Law

For the first time in its history (the first general Congress was held at The Hague in 1932), the IACL will host a program for younger scholars, defined as those scholars with no more than ten years of tenure-track faculty experience. This includes graduate students as well as post-doctoral fellows, lecturers and visiting affiliates who have yet to secure a continuing faculty appointment.

The Younger Scholars Forum in Comparative Law is chaired and convened by Richard Albert (Canada/USA) along with vice-chairs Luisa Fernanda García López (Colombia) and Maxime St-Hilaire (Canada). The chair is supported by a Program Committee and a Senior Advisory Committee. Members of both committees are identified further down below. The Program Committee is composed of three subcommittees: the Planning & Priorities subcommittee, co-chaired by Cora Chan (China) and Yaniv Roznai (Israel); the Information & Recruitment subcommittee, co-chaired by Cristina Fasone (Italy) and Daniel Wunder Hachem (Brazil); and the Communications & Technology subcommittee, chaired by John Haskell (United Kingdom).


Each Workshop will be conducted as a discussion group structured around accepted papers. Each Workshop will feature two Moderators and a Distinguished Provocateur-Discussant. The moderators will select up to 25 participants for a wide-ranging discussion that will run for the duration of the three-hour session. The Distinguished Provocateur-Discussant will comment on remarks made by participants, draw connections among the points made by the participants, seed the discussion with new points and questions, as well as challenge, reinforce and/or complicate the comments made by the participants. Discussions will be conducted in both English and French. Each of the Workshops follows below with an abstract identifying the Moderators and Distinguished Provocateur-Discussants.

Speakers’ Corner

The Speakers’ Corner will feature 15 to 18 TED-style 9-minute oral presentations on a scholarly subject related to a topic of the speaker’s choice in comparative law. All presentations will be recorded live in front of an audience at the Forum and uploaded on YouTube for larger dissemination with the global community of comparative law.

How to Participate

By September 15, 2017, younger scholars should email an abstract between 150 and 500 words to the Corresponding Moderator of the Workshop in which they would like to participate. All Corresponding Moderators are identified below in connection with each Workshop. For those interested in participating in the Speakers’ Corner, younger scholars should email an abstract between 150 and 500 words to the Director of the Speakers’ Corner, also identified further below.

Applicants will be notified by October 15, 2017.

The IACL does not cover expenses for any participant, including Moderators and Distinguished Provocateur-Discussants. But we believe that applicants’ home institutions will support participation in this event given the prestige and history of the IACL along with the special opportunity to exchange ideas and interact with younger scholars, Moderators and Distinguished Provocateur-Discussants from around the world.

All successful participants will have to register with the IACL. No other affiliation is required to participate in this program.


For questions about the Workshops, please contact Program Committee vice-chairs Luisa Fernanda García López (Colombia) at or Maxime St-Hilaire (Canada) at

For questions about the Speakers’ Corner, please contact the Director John Haskell (United Kingdom) at

For questions about the IACL, please contact Program Committee Chair Richard Albert at


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Published on June 14, 2017
Author:          Filed under: Developments

Call for Submissions–I-CONnect Symposium on the Legacy of Beverley McLachlin, Chief Justice of Canada

Richard Albert, Boston College Law School

Earlier this week, the Chief Justice of Canada announced her retirement effective December 15, 2017.

Appointed to the Supreme Court in 1989 and elevated to Chief Justice in 2000, Beverley McLachlin will leave the Court as its longest-serving Chief Justice.

In honor of Chief Justice McLachlin’s tenure on the Supreme Court, I-CONnect will host an online symposium on her legacy.

We welcome submissions ranging between 500 and 1000 words from scholars of all levels and from all jurisdictions. Submissions may address one or more of her judgments, her role as Chief Justice, her career as a judge or anything appropriate to the occasion of marking her retirement after nearly three decades of service on the Supreme Court.

Submissions should be sent in Word format by email to no later than September 1, 2017.

We welcome brief expressions of interest prior to the submission deadline.

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Published on June 14, 2017
Author:          Filed under: Developments

Indian Court Recognizes Rivers as Legal Entities

Vrinda Narain, Associate Professor and Associate Dean Academic, Faculty of Law, McGill University

On March 20, 2017, the Uttarakhand High Court in Nainital, India, ruled that the rivers Ganges and Yamuna are legal entities.[1] This remarkable decision came just five days after the New Zealand Parliament passed a Bill recognizing the Whanganui River as a legal entity.[2]

The story began with Mohd. Salim v. the State of Uttarakhand, decided on December 5, 2016, in the High Court of Uttarakhand at Nainital, which was a PIL concerning illegal constructions and encroachment on government land.[3] This decision followed years of wrangling over encroachment disputes as well as a dispute over the management of Water Resources Development and Management in relation to the rivers Ganges and Yamuna and their tributaries, between the newly created state of Uttarakhand and the state of Uttar Pradesh of which it was formerly a part.

As per Section 80 of the Uttar Pradesh Reorganization Act, 2000, the Central Government was to constitute the Ganga Management Board and to induct Uttarakhand as a member of the Upper Yamuna Board, but the High Court of Uttarakhand found that neither step had been taken.[4]

The primary focus of this decision was on the nature of Indian federalism and the respective rights of the federal and state governments, particularly in relation to water rights.[5] The Court directed that the illegal encroachments and construction on government land be removed. More important, the High Court directed the Central Government to constitute a Ganga Management Board and induct the State of Uttarakhand as a member of the Upper Yamuna Board within three months. Finally, the Court banned mining in the riverbed of the Ganga and its highest flood plain area with immediate effect.

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Published on June 13, 2017
Author:          Filed under: Developments

What’s New in Public Law

–Angélique Devaux, Cheuvreux Notaires, Paris, France, Diplômée notaire, LL.M. Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law 

In this weekly feature, I-CONnect publishes a curated reading list of developments in public law. “Developments” may include a selection of links to news, high court decisions, new or recent scholarly books and articles, and blog posts from around the public law blogosphere.

To submit relevant developments for our weekly feature on “What’s New in Public Law,” please email

Developments in Constitutional Courts

  1. The Constitutional Court of South Africa found that judges have an obligation to make sure that evictions will not let people homeless, and to take informed consent into account when granting an eviction order.
  2. The French Constitutional Council upheld the end of life bill.
  3. German Constitutional court ruled nuclear fuel tax unconstitutional.
  4. The US Supreme Court ruled in favor of several hospitals in a case that examined whether Advocate Health Care must follow a federal law designed to protect employee pensions.
  5. The European Court of Human Rights found the 2011 Russian election of Article 3 of Protocol No. 1 to the Convention, which guarantees the right to free elections. The election, in which President Vladimir Putin’s party, United Russia retained majority was compromised in recount.

In the News

  1. The Parliament of Navarra calls for a referendum on monarchy [article in Spanish].
  2. The National Diet of Japan passed a one-off bill to allow Emperor Akihito to abdicate.
  3. The Superior Electoral Tribunal in Brazil voted 4-3 against annulling the result of the election, which leaves President Michel Temer in office. The electoral tribunal rejected charges he accepted illegal campaign donations during the 2014 presidential election.
  4. Georgia seeks to remove mandatory military service from the Constitution.
  5. The French President Emmanuel Macron wants to end the state of emergency but wants also to integrate anti-terrorism powers into common law. A state of emergency was declared following the November 2015 Paris attacks and should expire in November 2017, after five extensions.
  6. The Texas Governor signed a series of abortion regulations into law.
  7. The European Court of Justice may rule on the UK Investigatory Powers Act. Judges are to decide whether the intelligence services’ bulk collection of email data in order to prevent terrorist attacks is legal.  

New Scholarship

  1. Antonia Baraggia, Italian Electoral Law: A Story of an Impossible Transition?, 16 Election Law Journal (2017 forthcoming) (examining electoral reforms in Italy since 1993 until today)
  2. Yaniv Roznai, Negotiating the Eternal: The paradox of entrenching secularism in constitutions, Michigan State Law Review (2017) (examining the practice of eternal protection of the principle of secularism in national constitutions)
  3. Carl Goodman, The Threat to Japanese Democracy: The LDP Plan for Constitution Introduce Emergency Powers, 15 The Asia Pacific Journal (2017) (explaining why the Abe administration’s emergency powers proposal will likely be the cutting edge of its attempt to amend the Japanese Constitution, and assessing the consequences of such an amendment for Japan’s democracy)
  4. Tom Ginsburg, Constitutional Advice and Transnational Legal Order, 2 UC Irvine Journal of International, Transnational and Comparative Law (2017) (surveying the history and practice of providing outside constitutional advice in constitution-making and the transnational nature of the process)
  5. Vincenzo Zeno-Zencovich, Comparative Legal Systems: A Short Introduction, Roma TrE-Press (2017 forthcoming) (examining Western legal systems in a holistic perspective)
  6. John Varghese, Financial Regulation and The Courts: A Comparative study of Judicial Approach in India, The United States of America, and the United Kingdom (2017) (providing a comparative study of the judiciary’s approach to regulation of financial instruments and derivatives in particular in three jurisdictions)
  7. Francesco Duranti, Constitution of Tunisia, Venice Commission and International Constitutionalism, in Loretta Dell’Aguzzo and Emidio Diadato (eds.), The State of pivot states in south-eastern Mediterranean: Turkey, Egypt, Israel, and Tunisia after the Arab Spring (2017) (examining the involvement of the Venice Commission in the Tunisian constitution-making process)

Calls for Papers and Announcements

  1. Melbourne Law School calls for applications for two PhD scholarships to undertake a higher degree by research and join Professor Adrienne Stone’s Laureate Fellowship Program in Comparative Constitutional Law.
  2. The Croatian Yearbook of European Law and Policy invites submissions for its 2017 Volume (13). The deadline for submissions is July 1, 2017.
  3. University of Illinois College of Law, the University of Bologna School of Law, and the Center for Constitutional Studies and Democratic Development invites paper proposals for the Third Annual Illinois-Bologna conference on Constitutional History: Comparative Perspectives, which will be held in Bologna, Italy, November 13–14, 2017.
  4. The European Journal of Legal Studies invites submissions for the EJLS New Voices Prize. The deadline for submissions is July 1, 2017. All essays submitted after this date will be reviewed for our Summer issue. The theme of the winter issue is “Empirical Legal Studies.”

Elsewhere Online

  1. Felix Mathieu, Les sources de la position de Couillard, Le Devoir [Article in French]
  2. Charlie Savage, Twitter Users Blocked by Trump Seek Reprieve, Citing First Amendment, The New York Times
  3. Steven D. Schwinn, Court Says Intervenors Must Have Standing of Their Own, Constitutional Law Prof Blog
  4. Mario Garcia, Cautious Openness: The Spanish Constitutional Court’s Approach to EU Law in recent national case law, European Law Blog
  5. Mariana Zuniga and Nick Miroff, Maduro wants to rewrite Venezuela’s Constitution. That’s rocket fuel on the fire, The Washington Post
  6. Fernando José Gonçalves Acunha and Juliano Zaiden Benvindo, Democratic Decay in Brazil and the New Global Populism, Blog of the IACL, AIDC
  7. Tetevi Davi, Treaty Amendments and Access to Justice at the East African Court, OxHRH
  8. Meghan Campbell, A New Ground Of Discrimination: Rural Remoteness?, OxHRH
  9. Mark Elliot, Does the Salisbury convention apply during a hung Parliament?, Public Law for Everyone
  10. Pierre de Vos, No, there is no duty on us to presume someone is innocent until proven guilty, Constitutionally Speaking
  11. Praharsh Johorey, Decoding the WhatsApp/Privacy Case, Indian Constitutional Law and Philosophy
  12. Radost Zaharieva, The politics of being Roma in France, openDemocracy
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Published on June 12, 2017
Author:          Filed under: Developments

Ignoring Constitutional Checks for Emergency Rule

Dante Gatmaytan, University of the Philippines, College of Law

On May 23, 2017, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte declared a state of martial law in the Mindanao group of islands.[1] The decision came after gunfire broke between the Philippine military and a radical Muslim rebel group called the Maute group. The conflict erupted after a failed army attempt to capture one of the leaders high on the wanted list.[2]

The Philippines has a horrible history with martial rule. Ferdinand Marcos used it to sustain his dictatorship that was marked with unprecedented human rights violations. The country’s 30-year old Constitution, crafted after Marcos’ ouster, had built in safeguards against sliding back to a one-man rule. These safeguards are being ignored by constitutional actors.

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Published on June 9, 2017
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Slovakia Tackles Its Constitutional Skeleton in the Closet

Michal Ovádek, Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies, University of Leuven

On 31 May 2017, six days before a parliament imposed deadline and 19 years after the fact, the Constitutional Court of the Slovak Republic (CC) upheld constitutional changes which annulled amnesties introduced by the former strongman prime minister and acting president Vladimír Mečiar (‘Mečiar’s amnesties’). The amnesties shielded from criminal prosecution multiple persons allegedly involved in the abduction of the son of the first Slovak president (Michal Kováč Jr.) in 1995 and in the obstruction of a referendum on direct elections of the president and Slovak accession to NATO in 1997. Making things more complicated was a prior amnesty decision of the first president, Michal Kováč, which halted the investigation of his own son in a fraud case.

The factual circumstances and procedural history make for fascinating (and bewildering) reading – the most important events were recounted in English by the ECtHR in Lexa v Slovakia (Application nos. 54334/00 and 34761/03) concerning the discontinued trials against the former Slovak intelligence chief implicated in the abduction and a related murder of a witness (an abridged version can be found in my previous blog post on this issue).

The important part of the story is that none of the previous seven attempts at annulling the amnesties had been successful. The first annulment by presidential decree was thwarted on legal grounds by the CC which made all subsequent attempts at finding a political consensus in conjunction with a legally acceptable solution much more difficult. Between 1998 and today, the issue gradually attained the status of a permanent stain in Slovakia’s transformation to a liberal democracy. The constitutional skeleton was also kept largely dormant by political elites; only intermittently, and in any event with no results (until now), were parliamentarians interested in wriggling some bones out of the proverbial closet.

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Published on June 7, 2017
Author:          Filed under: Developments