The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and three citizens have sued the government of Puerto Rico to declare unconstitutional part of the Executive Order of the curfew, established to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
In a press release signed by the directors of the ACLU, William Ramírez and Fermín Arraiza, it was reported that specifically the lawsuit requests that the part of the Executive Order that seeks to punish with up to six months in prison violations of the regulation.
Also, it is indicated in the communiqué that the order “intends to prohibit access to the homes of people who are not part of the ‘family nucleus'”, while “favoring religious activities on Sundays, while prohibiting the commercial activities allowed the rest of week”.
The preliminary and permanent request for interdiction, filed electronically with the Court of First Instance of San Juan, is directed against Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced, the Secretary of Justice, Denisse Longo Quiñones, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
The ACLU noted that the three citizens participating in the lawsuit are responsible for the care of mothers with special needs for Health reasons, so they request that the Executive Order be amended so that it is clear that they are exempt from the curfew. and traffic restrictions regarding travel to the homes of their families.
In addition, they demand that precise instructions be given to the Police and prosecutors regarding the existence of this exception.
Along with the ACLU, the cultural manager Nindra C. Cordero Ulmo, the urban planner Pedro Colón Almenas and Professor Mario Santana Ortiz sued the Government.
“The mothers of the three co-claimants are older adults and have health conditions that require special care that only they are giving them and that require visiting them every day, even at night,” the ACLU said.
“Cordero Ulmo’s mother has impaired lung capacity, Colón Almenas’ mother suffers from diabetes and requires insulin administration, and Santana Ortiz’s mother suffers from senile dementia and has trouble walking, and an adult son with a disability lives with her. intellectual and other medical conditions “, is detailed in the information.
The plaintiffs indicated that they recognize the need to impose social distancing measures to try to stop COVID-19 infections, but indicated that “The state cannot do what the Constitution of Puerto Rico prohibits, nor can it prohibit what the Constitution allows.”
Specifically, they argued that “by mandate of the Constitution of Puerto Rico and the separation of powers that it establishes, only the Legislative Assembly can create less serious crimes, which are those that have a prison term of six months.”
“However, in this case, the executive branch, through an executive order from the governor, usurps the powers of the legislature to punish with that six-month prison sentence for those who violate the curfew provisions and other restrictions that contains, “said the ACLU.
“For there to be a crime that entails the loss of freedom, it is necessary that the Legislative Assembly approve a law that details the conduct that is to be prohibited, they abounded. And, always complying with the due process of law that the Constitution requires,” he explained. .
While, the plaintiffs allege that “the executive order violates the separation of Church and State, guaranteed in the Constitution, by prohibiting on Sundays commercial activities that are allowed by the order for the rest of the week, while churches are allowed certain activities that day. “
“The plaintiffs are not calling for the trade restrictions to be lifted, but for what is already allowed for the rest of the week to continue on Sundays, and for the health emergency of the Covid-19 coronavirus not to be used to unconstitutionally favor religious activities about other legitimate activities, “he said.