Costa Rica Loses In Central American Court Over Border Road

Costa Rica border

The Central American Court of Justice (CCJ) condemned Costa Rica this Monday for the ecological damage caused to border of the San Juan River and the ecosystem of the common border with the construction of a road parallel to the river.

“We condemn the State of Costa Rica for engaging in irresponsible and related environmental damage in the San Juan de Nicaragua and the shared ecosystem along the common border with Nicaragua”, said the ruling, which was read at a press conference by President of the CCJ – the Nicaraguan Carlos Guerra.

The decision has no practical effect on Costa Rica, whose government has never recognized the Central American Court, based in Nicaragua.

“What the court decides for us is irrelevant and means absolutely nothing.” said Costa Rican Foreign Minister in January, Enrique Castillo, when the agency ordered the suspension of the works.

Costa Rica has consistently denied it has caused environmental damage to the river San Juan.

“I must be emphatic that until now there is no evidence of damage to the river, simply because there is not.” said Castillo before the Committee on Public Expenditure Control of Congress on June 26.

According to Guerra, Costa Rica must abide by the decision of the Court, it is one of the agencies of the Central American Integration System (SICA) to which Costa Rica has belonged to since 1991, and warned that if Costa Rica does not comply, the Central American presidents will be asked to apply measures against the country.

The ruling, however, does not specify the duties that Costa Rica must comply by.

The Court ruled on the claim that the National Recycling Forum and the Nicaraguan Foundation for Sustainable Development presented the December 19, which alleged “serious ecological damage” caused the river to the construction of the road.

The magistrates considered that Costa Rica “built a high-risk work and environmental hazards” without any impact assessment or consultation with neighboring Nicaragua, as required by Community law.

The CCJ also condemned Costa Rica, for violating existing regional agreements “for the conservation of biodiversity and protection of priority wildlife areas in Central America,” says the resolution.

Despite the conviction, the CCJ did not determine the economic cost of damage “for lack of evidence needed to quantify the damage.”

The work, in which the Costa Rican government invested $ 40 million since October 2010, has been involved in allegations of corruption and environmental damage.

A report by the Ministry of Environment said that the works caused damage to the part Costa Rican by circumvent controls, and according to a laboratory of a state university, the road lacks adequate drainage and is filled with material that could collapse in the rainy season along with unnecessary cuts to nearby forest.

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