Mexico calls on the International Court of Justice to expel Ecuador from UN

A complaint filed in the court on Thursday alleges violations of international law following a raid on Mexico’s embassy.

Ecuadorian officials gather around a conference table to discuss a raid on the Mexican embassy in Quito.
Jonathan Parra, president of the oversight commission of Ecuador's National Assembly, speaks during a meeting on April 10, 2024, to discuss a raid on Mexico's embassy in Quito [Dolores Ochoa/AP Photo]

Mexico has appealed to the International Court of Justice to boot Ecuador from the United Nations, following a late night police raid on its embassy in Quito.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Mexico filed a complaint with the court on Thursday, calling Ecuador’s actions a violation of international law.

“The court, in accordance with the United Nations Charter, should approve the expulsion, and there should be no veto,” Lopez Obrador said at a news conference.

On social media, Mexican Foreign Minister Alicia Barcena echoed the president’s statement, saying Ecuador should be held “to account for flagrant violation of the inviolability of our embassy and attacks on our staff”.

“The letter and spirit of international law is the guide for our steps,” she wrote.

Mexico’s case centres on a controversial police raid that resulted in the capture of former Ecuadorian Vice President Jorge Glas, who had been sheltering in the Mexican embassy in Quito to avoid arrest.

Embassies are considered protected spaces. Although they are not “foreign soil” — a common misconception — international law places them off limits to local police.

That, in turn, allows embassy employees to carry out their work without fear of arrest or harassment from local authorities.

The 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, for example, says: “The premises of the [diplomatic] mission shall be inviolable. The agents of the receiving State may not enter them, except with the consent of the head of the mission.”

However, this “rule of inviolability” has also been used by political dissidents and other figures to avoid arrest by taking shelter in a foreign embassy.

Glas, for instance, has been twice convicted on bribery and corruption charges. He was sentenced in 2017 to six years in prison and again in 2020 to an eight-year sentence.

Since December, Glas had sought refuge in the Mexican embassy, and shortly before his arrest on Friday, President Lopez Obrador had offered him political asylum in Mexico.

But late on Friday night, Ecuadorian police scaled the wall of the Mexican embassy, bursting through its doors and pointing a gun at one of its chief diplomatic officers.

Video released by the Mexican government on Wednesday shows that officer, diplomat Roberto Canseco, being thrown to the ground as he tried to block police vehicles leaving the embassy with Glas inside.

Mexico has since called for Ecuador’s suspension from the UN. It said the suspension should only be lifted once Ecuador issues “a public apology recognising its violations to the fundamental principles and norms of international law”.

The administration of President Lopez Obrador also severed diplomatic ties with Ecuador as a result of Glas’s arrest.

Other countries and international organisations have likewise expressed concern and outrage over the police raid, calling it a violation of international laws.

On Tuesday, United States National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said, based on security footage of the police raid, his government believes “these actions were wrong”.

The Organization of American States (OAS) also released a statement saying that “strict compliance” with the international law governing diplomatic relations is “essential”.

In addition, OAS Secretary-General Luis Almagro suggested the situation with Glas should have been handled differently.

Neither “the use of force, the illegal incursion into a diplomatic mission, nor the detention of an asylee are the peaceful way toward resolution of this situation”, he said.

Ecuador has defended its decision to storm Mexico’s embassy, though. The government of President Daniel Noboa has questioned whether Glas met the requirements to receive political asylum, and it reaffirmed its commitment to fighting corruption within its borders.

Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Gabriela Sommerfeld also said that a public apology “is not something that is under discussion at this moment”.

Glas, meanwhile, has been on a hunger strike in his prison in Guayaquil. He was briefly hospitalised on Monday.

Rafael Correa, the former president in whose administration Glas served, said the ex-vice president had attempted suicide after his arrest.

Correa himself lives in exile in Belgium and faces a prison sentence in his native Ecuador, likewise on corruption-related charges.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies