San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Central American Court of Justice condemns Costa Rica for damage to Río San Juan

The Nicaragua-based Central American Court of Justice – whose jurisdiction Costa Rica does not recognize – on Monday condemned the country for the construction of a 160-kilometer road parallel to the San Juan River, and ordered the country to stop the project permanently, the Nicaraguan daily El Nuevo Diario reported.

The court commented that Costa Rica is building a “high-risk project” that is an “environmental hazard,” because it threatens the local ecosystem. The San Juan River functions as a natural border between the two countries.

In the ruling, the court ordered all works on the road suspended, while also admonishing Costa Rica for ignoring a separate Jan. 17 court ruling on the issue.

The court did not determine an estimated cost of damages “for lack of evidence.”

Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla dismissed the court’s ruling, saying, “we have every right to doubt the court’s objectivity, because it is located in Nicaragua and its chair is a Nicaraguan.”  

She also noted the court ruled only hours after Nicaragua became president of the Central American Integration System during a meeting in Honduras Friday.

In May, Chinchilla dismissed a similar ruling from the court and reiterated that her administration would continue with the project.

“What the court decides is absolutely meaningless,” Costa Rican Foreign Minister Enrique Castillo said in January.

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