Critics accused Uribe of proposing the declaration in order to make an executive order to appoint a new prosecutor general. The election of the prosecutor general is the responsibility of the Supreme Court, but has been delayed for months because the court cannot reach the necessary consensus on a candidate.
The president denied these allegations, saying that a declaration of exception would only be used to deal with the problem of emerging illegal armed groups and criminals, and that he would never use such a declaration to appoint a prosecutor general.
One intention of the proposed state of exception is to create a body of “judges of guarantee” to replace municipal judges for the 90-day duration of the declaration, and provide prosecutors with better tools to combat criminal groups, according to the government.
“The government has always intended to strengthen the powers of justice, and never to usurp the powers of justice,” Uribe said.
“A state of exception can never touch the constitutional requirements, the election of the new prosecutor general is subject to an article of the constitution which must be observed,” the president said.
Uribe has criticized the delay in electing a new prosecutor general, and said earlier in June that the power to choose the official should be given to the president.
The president has said that the ongoing delays in electing the new prosecutor general threaten the country’s democratic institutions and the rule of law.
The state of exception being proposed refers to article 213 of the Colombian constitution, which is used in times of “internal disturbance, or serious disruption of public order which poses an imminent threat to institutional stability;” an “estado de conmocion interior.”
Referring to the criteria required for issuing the decree, former Constitutional Court President, Alfredo Beltran, said that it “was not the case.”
Special decrees issued by the government during the course of a state of exception are subject to supervision by the Constitutional Court.
In order to declare the state of exception the president must obtain the signatures of all the ministers and have “substantive grounds and reasons for declaring a state of emergency.”
Article 214 of the constitution is used throughout states of exception to “establish safeguards for the protection of human rights in conformity with international treaties,” and states that, “the president and the ministers bear responsibility … when internal disturbances occur, and they are also responsible (as are other officials), for any abuse they commit in the exercise of special powers.”